Russian Roulette

michael_copps.jpg FCC Commissioner Michael Copps has a way with words. Last year he said we should be talking about Internet freedom rather than net neutrality. And now he says we’re
playing Russian roulette with broadband and Internet and more traditional media

FCC Commissioner: US playing “Russian roulette with broadband and Internet” By Nate Anderson, ars technica, August 03, 2007 – 09:20AM CT

And the Russians are winning.

More about Copps:

In a speech at the YearlyKos convention, Copps spoke like a man with a fire in his guts. He’s proud of America but “worried” by the path that it has gone down with respect to broadband Internet and media consolidation, which he sees as ideas joined at the hip.

In both cases, “a small number of corporate gatekeepers” now control the public’s access to information, an arrangement that threatens to “invert the democratic genius of the Internet.” When the Internet first exploded onto the scene, people hailed it as a revolutionary communications tool that would allow for the creation of a truly democratic media in which anyone with a message could get the word out to others. Now, Copps notes that most connections to the Internet are controlled by massive corporations who seem eager to prevent any neutrality safeguards from being placed on the networks they manage.

That assumes that people can actually get such connections. While the FCC has for years sung hallelujahs to the idea of a “light regulatory touch,” Copps has no truck with the mantra, “Deregulate everything, the market will cure all evil.” But he’s not in love with FCC regulation for the sake of regulation. He made clear in his speech that he would actually welcome a truly competitive market in which the government could step aside. The reality, though, is that this competitive market is largely a myth when it comes to broadband access. More than 90 percent of all Americans get their broadband from a powerful cable/DSL duopoly.

As Krugman pointed out, the world may look flat once you’re in cyberspace, but first you have to get out there through one or two tiny little bottlenecks.