I had several initial reactions to your piece but I knew that others would have knee-jerk, emotional reactions as people often do, and that type of reaction normally fuels these policy debates, but we never really get to real facts. Your article really only brings two feelings for me, and those are confusion and concern.
First, I'm confused about what your goals are here. I've watched you write articles, give speeches and have even sat on panels with you and heard you push for "additional" Net Neutrality regulations to be put in place (I say additional because you haven't made people aware that there are already principles in place by which the FCC monitors the internet). Where I would assume that you would feel a sense of accomplishment, I actually see the opposite. Weren't FCC net neutrality protections your goal?
The FCC has spent significant time hearing from corporations, consumer and public interest groups, policy experts and academics from both sides, as well as the American people, and it has diligently worked to develop a plan that takes all of those points of reference into account. To my disappointment, this lengthy process sidetracked forward movement on broadband adoption and expanded access. But, it seems you will have the FCC continue to go into this tangential spiral of "net neutrality" because nothing less than exactly what you think they should do is acceptable. In the meantime, it is crucial that the public knows that this focused activity on net neutrality has and will continue to hold back the very people your organization was created to represent -- keeping them from benefiting from the opportunities that high speed Internet could offer them.
My second feeling is that of concern. First, because we continue to misconstrue messages and the truth in order to stir up emotions in people, instead of properly educating them so that they may make their own informed decisions. For example in your latest piece you stated that "Without Net Neutrality, Google, Facebook, the Huffington Post and MoveOn.org would not exist; neither would Barack Obama be President." That statement is loaded and inaccurate for the following reasons:
• What you're pushing for is not "Net Neutrality," but rather new regulations that go as far as you can take them. The Net is more neutral today than it's ever been, and the opportunities for minorities are bigger today than ever. Large companies such as Facebook and Google have not suffered under the current framework -- after all, didn't they get to where they are today BEFORE any of these added "net neutrality" rules were even on the table? By sending this misguided message, you discourage minorities from taking full advantage of such opportunities currently at their fingertips, which goes against every message I've been trying to get across for the last year and a half.
• To expand on my last point, sites like Google, the Huffington Post and the others you mentioned were able to flourish because of the current environment provided to the Internet. Even as the Internet evolves in methods and models, that fact will not change.
• The Internet today is not the same as it was 2 years ago, and that Internet was different than it was 5 years ago -- this is a good thing. I remember hearing the late Danny Lewin, founder of Akamai, say in 1999 that if we kept up the same Internet usage that we had then, we would overwhelm capacity in 5 years. Well, not only did we increase usage beyond best guesses, but we have surpassed that date. This was able to happen because the Internet changed, adapted and evolved with the times and as needed to meet consumer demands. The Internet plans offered by AOL would not work today and so those models had to evolve and change. But, we have seen more opportunity, not less, during this process of evolution, and I don't think anyone would disagree -- just look at the new multimillion dollar mobile app industry!
My last point of concern with your recent piece is in regard to personal attacks. Instead of sitting down and having honest and open debate, players in this debate often resort to public attacks on each other. I have had the pleasure of meeting you in person, and we have had dialogue in a social setting. I am also honored that David Honig has asked me to speak at his events and enabled me to get the messages that I hold so dearly out to the community. So, I can say that the attacks don't help the people on whose behalf we are advocating. So my hope is that we can all move past these types of "verbal battles" and really focus on the people and the topics that matter.
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