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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Ron and Rand Paul Launch a Crusade for Internet Freedom

Congressman Ron Paul (R-Texas) and his son, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), have always been prominent champions of libertarian philosophy. They have chosen Internet freedom as a new focus for their efforts, publishing a manifesto called “The Technology Revolution.” This crusade will rival Rep. Paul’s long quest to “end the Fed” as a top priority for his Campaign for Liberty organization.

As even the most casual acquaintance with Ron Paul or his organization would confirm, putting anything up there next to the Federal Reserve on his top policy shelf is a pretty big deal. Paul still wants to end the Fed, but he wants to make sure a free Internet survives it.

“The Technology Revolution” is a broadside against Net Neutrality, which the Campaign for Liberty manifesto describes as “government acting as arbiter and enforcer of what it deems to be ‘neutral.’” The architects of Net Neutrality are said to be “masters at hijacking the language of freedom and liberty to disingenuously push for more centralized control.” Terms like openness, Internet freedom, and competition are twisted into euphemisms for government control and the dissipation of property rights. It’s reminiscent of the way “social justice” has become a cover for endless injustice, perpetrated by the government against disfavored groups and individuals.

A core belief of the Campaign for Liberty’s Internet manifesto is that “technology is evolving faster than government’s ability to regulate it.” Net Neutrality has been described by its detractors as a solution in search of a problem—a massive assertion of regulatory power to “fix” an Internet that is performing incredibly well. Fast access to staggering amounts of data is available at negligible cost. Websites are easily established and expanded. Power users pay extra for enhanced bandwidth, keeping the cost of basic Internet access for home users amazingly low.

Notably, many of the crisis points Net Neutrality purports to address are predictions—hypothetical problems that might crop up somewhere down the road, if the proper regulatory apparatus is not assembled in advance. Regulators who don’t even understand the state of the Internet today, or how it evolved so quickly into such a remarkable virtual organism, claim the wisdom to predict what it might be doing tomorrow, and design cages that will be able to contain it.

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