Today’s thought foray – requires us to define a few terms. First:
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
The companies that have in the last quarter-century invested more than a trillion dollars – building the actual Internet. Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, AT&T, etc. The companies that laid the Information Superhighway – upon which all the rest of us ride. The bandwidth providers.
The Big Tech companies. And not just located in the Silicon Valley – more than a few are de facto centered in Communist China. Apple, Google, Amazon, Facebook, etc. The biggest of the Information Superhighway riders. The Bandwidth Hogs – consuming way more than half of all the US bandwidth the ISPs provide.
The Left loves to categorize the ISPs as evil, monster companies – demanding and getting monster government cronyism.
“The free and open internet is a powerful tool for everyone fighting for social change and racial justice. But companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon – and their government allies – want to destroy it.”
Except as with nigh everything Left – this is titanically stupid. For a host of reasons.
The companies allegedly looking to destroy the free and open Internet – spent more than a trillion dollars building the free and open Internet. I’m sure their shareholders would object to their now destroying it.
So they’re probably not going to do it. As evidenced by the entirety of the quarter-century of the private sector Internet’s existence – during which they never, ever have.
The ISPs – and their “government allies?” This is laughable on its face.
The Big Tech companies – spend MUCH more on government candidates. And get MUCH more government cronyism in return.
ISPs spend most of their time – asking governments to leave them alone. This isn’t cronyism – this is begging the government to let them engage in capitalism.
Big Tech spends most of their time – demanding governments do them special favors. This isn’t capitalism – this is cronyism.
As but one example: The very stupid policy known as Network Neutrality.
Net Neutrality is a stupidly huge government imposition in the Internet – specifically on the ISPs. A whole host of regulations restricting just about everything ISPs do to provide us service.
ISPs ask governments – to leave them alone with this Net Neutrality nonsense.
Big Tech demands government impose Net Neutrality – because it guarantees them huge government-mandated benefits.
To name but one:
As mentioned, Big Tech consumes way more than half of all US bandwidth. Net Neutrality – mandates they not be charged any money for any of it. We the Little People would pay MUCH more for our service – to subsidize the likes of Apple, Amazon and Google.
Net Neutrality is massive government regulation – to impose massive Big Tech cronyism.
The ISPs’ “government allies” – are simply less government types who know how stupid Net Neutrality is…and therefore don’t want to impose it.
Big Tech’s government cronies – are sell-out politicians who know how stupid Net Neutrality is…but impose it anyway because their paymasters demand it.
All of which brings us to the biggest Big Tech cronyism of all:
“Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act of 1996 (a common name for Title V of the Telecommunications Act of 1996) is a piece of Internet legislation.
“It provides immunity from liability for providers and users of an interactive computer service who publish information provided by others.
“An immunity clause in the Act states that no provider or user of an interactive computer service shall be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider.”
We must now define two additional terms:
What we’ve always seen pre-Internet. Newspapers, books and the like. They edit content – so they control content. And thus are eligible to be sued – unprotected by Section 230.
An almost-exclusively Internet creation. To allow for user-provided website content – videos, comments, etc – Section 230 indemnifies the websites hosting the content from being libel from many laws for the content.
Section 230 – is a HUGE government benefit to Big Tech.
And Section 230 makes some sense – so long as the Big Tech beneficiaries uphold their tiny end of this massively beneficial bargain.
Big Tech platforms – must be open to ALL users. With content only edited or deleted – for a certain, specific set of defined obvious reasons: Posting pornography, foul language, etc.
Ideological censorship – is a Section 230 no-no.
But Leftist Big Tech – censors less government types all the time.
Well, we can stop them, actually.
As with nigh all things policy – the original sin here is too much government.
In this instance, the too much government – is the massive Big Tech cronyism of Section 230.
“A spokesperson for (Texas Republican) Sen. Cruz told Breitbart News in a statement:
“‘Big Tech enjoys a subsidy that no other industry does: immunity from liability under Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. That immunity is predicated on the expectation that social media would be neutral public forums.
“‘Big Tech has made it abundantly clear they have no intention of abiding by that, taking the opposite tact by operating as partisan publishers.
“‘Sen. Cruz believes if they’re going to choose to be partisan publishers, then there is little reason why they should get a special immunity from liability that other publishers, such as the New York Times, don’t enjoy.’”
Most of DC is, as nigh always, bizarrely removed from Reality – and actual answers to actual questions.
A few weeks ago I attended a DC debate on Big Tech censorship.
Conservative and Human Events Editor Will Chamberlain – wanted the government to force Big Tech companies to host just about all content.
Libertarian and Reason Magazine Associate Editor Robby Soave – wanted to leave all things relevant as is.
They were opposed to one another. I was opposed to both.
In the hour-plus long debate – NO ONE even referenced Section 230. It never, ever came up.
Until I mentioned it during the Question & Answer period.
Very few people in the room seemed pleased I did. And I was screeched at by Big Tech defenders on Twitter – who were watching the event’s livestream.
The most interesting reaction?
I will now be as vague as possible about the following – to protect the involved:
A person who works for one of the biggest of Big Tech companies – a conservative I’ve known for years – was seated next to me. This person turned to me and whispered something along the lines of:
“If you get rid of Section 230 – it will kill these companies.”
Really? Many of these near-trillion companies got to be near-trillion dollar companies – almost solely because of Section 230?
And they can’t exist without it?
That sounds like the quintessential definition of government cronyism.
Fake energy solar panel and wind turbine companies can’t exist without government cronyism. Should we continue to prop up them too?
That doesn’t seem to me to be very conservative, free market or less government.
So why are so many conservative, free market and less government types – defending it?
This first appeared in Red State.