Craig, Scott and the Debate over Net Regulation

By April 12, 2007Economy, Innovation

We’re pleased to offer something brand new, unprecedented in the world of “net neutrality” blogging today — hey, it’s a world — the first-ever joint appearance of Craig Newmark of Craig’s List, the hugely successful on-line classified ads site, and Scott Cleland, chairman of, an e-forum supported by the broadband companies.

Craig and Scott have frequently opposed one another on “net neutrality,” but their appearance on this week’s NAM radio program, “America’s Business with Mike Hambrick,” is the first time they have done so in a single, albeit telephonic, sit-down. Newmark favors government involvement in broadband to ensure “fairness,” i.e., single-priced, affordable access, while Cleland supports the option of tiered pricing, warning against government rules slowing innovation and even higher-speed communications. (Craig blogs at craigblog, and Scott blogs at Precursorblog.)

You can see a good sample of the debate at Craig’s blog, in today’s post where he whacks at Scott for previously supporting net neutrality. Scott responds to that point on the radio program.

To listen to the debate via an .mp3 file, please click here. It’s the first of two parts; we’ll carry the second part on next week’s “America’s Business.

It’s good to revisit the issue. Blogging hereabouts on net regulation has slacked off this year, mostly since no legislation seems imminent. Last year’s telcom and video franchising bills (H.R. 5252 in the House and S. 2682 in the Senate) unfortunately fell by the wayside; pro-Internet regulation advocates had attempted to attach their “net neutrality” provisions to the respective bills. Thankfully, those efforts, too, fell short.

Although people of good will can differ on net regulation, the NAM’s position is that increased government control of broadband — price-setting, implicit or even explicit content regulation and the like — will slow Internet’s expansion and the provision of new services so important to manufacturers. So the NAM definitely welcomed the FCC’s decision last month that will make it easier for new competitors to enter the local cable television market, providing consumers and industry more choices in communication services. (NAM news release here.)

With the United States ranking well behind other countries in broadband penetration, the NAM believes we should let the market — the powerful profit motive — spur innovation and investment. Government dictates and bureaucracies are stultifying, and they will only serve to inhibit U.S. competitiveness.

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