The political paralysis over network neutrality might be a microcosm of the broader political paralysis in America. Last week, after FCC chairman Julius Genachowksi laid out his Title I compromise strategy to finally resolve this seemingly never-ending debate, radical left and right wing groups conspired to destroy any possibility of consensus. On the left, activist groups like Free Press called Genachowki’s initiative a “fake net neutrality proposal,” while many of the radical right questioned the FCC’s legitimacy and called for a complete retreat from any kind of government involvement in technology policy.
So can the center fight back against this unholy alliance of radical netizens and Tea Party libertarians that seem intent on crushing any kind of network neutrality compromise?
One of the feistiest voices of this broad center – which now incorporates most of Silicon Valley, many of the larger ISPs and media companies, the Obama administration and prominent technology investors like Ron Conway – is Gigi Sohn, cofounder and CEO of Public Knowledge. While she is certainly closer to the radicals of Free Press than to the radicals in the Tea Party, what distinguishes Sohn – as I found when I skyped her on Monday – is her willingness to try to work with Genachowski to sculpt a compromise to this hideously complex issue.
But, according to author and legal scholar Larry Downes, whom I also skyped on Monday, this center probably won’t hold. Downes believes it’s “almost a certainty” that the dispute is now headed to the law courts for two to three years, where the only real beneficiaries will be hardline conservatives and radicals, and, surprise surprise, the high priced lawyers hired by either side to drag out this critically important issue forever.
If you missed the part one of this special two part series about the latest twists and turns in the ongoing network neutrality saga, you can view interviews with Andy Kessler and Richard Bennett here.
Sohn on compromise
Downes on why compromise won’t work
Gigi Sohn is an internationally known communications attorney. In September 2001, she founded Public Knowledge with Laurie Racine (then President of the Center for the Public Domain) and activist/author David Bollier. Gigi serves as PKâ€™s chief strategist, fundraiser and public face. She is frequently quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, as well as in trade and local press. Gigi has been published in the Washington Post, Variety, CNET and Legal Times. In addition, she...
Larry Downes is a consultant and speaker on developing business strategies in an age of constant disruption caused by information technology. Downes is author of the Business Week and New York Times business bestseller, â€œUnleashing the Killer App: Digital Strategies for Market Dominanceâ€ (Harvard Business School Press, 1998), which has sold nearly 200,000 copies and was named by the Wall Street Journal as one of the five most important books ever published on business and technology. His new book, â€œThe Laws...