New America MacKinnon’s Ridiculous Net Neutrality Revisionism — Radical Fringe Series Part II

July 19, 2011

The latest strategic demonization of private enterprise by the radical information commons movement to promote net neutrality comes from Ms. Rebecca Mackinnon of the New America Foundation, who recently charged that private corporations have too much power over the Internet and effectively should be regulated as common carriers, when she previewed her upcoming book “The Consent of the Governed” at the TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, which was covered by the New York Times.

Ms. MacKinnon in her talk, employed a ridiculously bad and outrageous analogy that Internet users should fight against Internet companies’ Internet tyranny like the barons in England fought King John’s tyranny in 1215 by writing the Magna Carta.

  • Ms. MacKinnon charged: “The sovereigns [corporations]of the Internet are acting like they have a divine right to govern.”
  • Obviously desperate to associate with, and legitimize her radical cause with the historical spark and bedrock event of today’s freedom and democracy, the Magna Carta, Ms. MacKinnon trivializes the grand importance and relevance of the Magna Carta by misleading her audience that today’s situation is somehow analogous — when her analogy could not be further than the truth.

Consider how the 1215 Magna Carta baseline could not be less analogous with today’s Internet baseline.

  • In 1215, most all people were starving, plague-suffering serfs whose lives were “brutish and short,” and who enjoyed no choices, rights, liberties or due process to speak of.
    • Today most all Internet users are relatively affluent citizens with health and prospects of long life, who enjoy market competition, constitutional rights, freedoms, and the democratic power to elect or throw out their leaders and representatives.
  • In 1215, King John was a vicious and duplicitous tyrant and killer worthy of fear, opposition and condemnation — a despot with minimal redeeming value.
    • Today, corporations must compete for Internet users’ business and they can lose them if they do not satisfy the expectations and needs of the user; and today corporations provide an ever-growing array of products, services and innovations that enhance and protect users’ quality of life.
  • In 1215, King John had no accountability — zero.
    • Today, most Internet users enjoy the freedom and choice to take their Internet access business to a competitor; they have contractual rights in their terms of service; they have complaint resolution processes; and they are overseen by democratic governments with separation of powers to safeguard against despotic exercise of power like King John exercised.
  • In 1215, the offenses against people were real deadly and pervasive.
    • Today, most all of Ms. MacKinnon’s alleged threats to the Internet are hypothetical or imagined.

In short, Ms. MacKinnon’s Magna Carta implication that modern day corporations in democratic nations are somehow analogous to a vicious despotic Dark Ages killer like King John, is outrageous, illogical, and intellectually vacuous.

 

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