Republican Platform Includes Internet Freedom Plank


The Republican Party adopted its platform at the convention Tuesday, and it included a commitment to Internet freedom, kudos for mobile broadband, and a big knock on the current Democratic-led FCC.

In the section entitled "Protecting Internet Freedom," the platform notes that Internet's independence is its power: "We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of voice video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem."

The platform also commits to a multi-stakeholder model of Internet governance, one of the few things Republicans and Democrats are in full agreement on.

The Republican party says it is committed to ensuring that "personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties," it adds that "the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector." The Republicans' focus on the private sector became one of the sticking points in cybersecurity legislation that failed to pass despite both parties acknowledging that there was a need for better cybersecurity protections.

But while the Republicans say they are for Internet freedom, that does not mean they have changed their opposition to the FCC's open Internet rules. The Republicans say telecom regulation is stuck in the last century--make that two centuries ago.

"Today's technology and telecommunications industries are overseen by the Federal Communications Commission, established in 1934 and given the jurisdiction over telecommunications formerly assigned to the Interstate Commerce Commission, which had been created in 1887 to regulate the railroads," according to the platform in a section entitled: "A Vision for the Twenty-First Century: Technology, Telecommunications and the Internet."

That vision does not include the FCC as currently constituted. "An industry that invested $66 billion in 2011 alone needs, and deserves, a more modern relationship with the federal government for the benefit of consumers here and worldwide," they say. "The current Administration has been frozen in the past. It has conducted no auction of spectrum [and] has offered no incentives for investment."

And while the FCC recently said that broadband has not been deployed in a timely and reasonable fashion, the Republicans lay the blame at the feet of the FCC. "[The commission] inherited from the previous Republican Administration 95% coverage of the nation with broadband. It will leave office with no progress toward the goal of universal coverage -- after spending $7.2 billion more [a reference to the Obama Administration's broadband stimulus package].

"We call for an inventory of federal agency spectrum to determine the surplus that could be auctioned for the taxpayers' benefit... we will replace the administration's Luddite approach to technological progress with a regulatory partnership that will keep this country the world leader in technology and telecommunications."