Obama Not Thrown Off By Net Neutrality Red Herrings

My last post was about Obama’s cybersecurity speech and report last Friday.

I wanted to follow up on Obama’s commitment to network neutrality, in that speech.  That quote again (and I won’t get sick of quoting the President’s support for net neutrality): “I remain firmly committed to net neutrality so we can keep the Internet as it should be — open and free.”

This is in a speech about cyberwarfare and cybersecurity, a speech that also included these lines:

And this is also a matter of public safety and national security.  We count on computer networks to deliver our oil and gas, our power and our water.  …

Our technological advantage is a key to America’s military dominance.

How can security be compatible with network neutrality?

Easily.  There is nothing in network neutrality suggesting that security must be sacrificed.  Security is a red herring, introduced those few companies (AT&T, Comcast, etc.) opposing network neutrality.  They have other red herrings.  In fact, an FCC hearing at Stanford last year featured (and dismissed) red herrings–copyright filtering, child safety–none of which are incompatible with network neutrality.

At root, carriers are saying that the Internet can’t provide… security … certainty … that the carriers themselves can uniquely provide such security.  I believe the Internet–through applications on the Internet, created by innovative people using the Internet–can meet these challenges.  We needn’t turn to the carriers–carriers whose track record of innovation pales to that of the open Internet’s competitive landscape–to provide key security.  We needn’t deputize carriers to be private enforcers.

At any rate, as a professor who teaches cyberwarfare law (teaching, in fact, 40 minutes from Strategic Command) and a longtime advocate for network neutrality, I was happy to see our President not get distracted by a red herring when so much is at stake in Internet policy, for our security and for our democracy.

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