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What is the simple key to passing bipartisan net neutrality and online privacy legislation?
Put consumer interests first with a new Federal consumer-centric law, not last like today, where technology interests come first, in technology-centric law which minimizes responsibility to safeguard consumers’ choices, privacy, and security.
The tell for whether someone supports bipartisan Internet legislation to protect consumers and level the playing field or not, is whether they are focused on what is best overall for the online consumer or focused on special treatment for one technology over another. It is that simple.
Only people vote, bleed, or care. Technologies do not.
The Bipartisan Case
The origin of the term “Internet” is “inter-networking” per Robert Khan, co-inventor of TCP/IP, the Internet protocol that essentially enables and thus defines which networks are interoperable parts of the Internet’s overall network of networks, which now effectively encompasses ISPs, Internet services, Intenet platforms, cloud providers, apps, and others.
If the effective purpose of Inter-networking is universal interoperability, and if the consumer is an end-user that can be an endpoint in net neutrality’s defining end-to-end principle, why can’t, and why shouldn’t, U.S. net neutrality and online privacy policies also apply end-to-end to encompass a consumer’s entire online experience?
All Internet traffic is data, some of which is private.
Net neutrality and online privacy are both about user control of their Internet data traffic, to ensure its treated neutrally and responsibly. They’re two sides of the same legislative coin.
The U.S. Internet is inherently interstate commerce for Internet traffic and data protection, because Internet packet transmission technology unpredictably-routes Internet traffic data packets over state lines.
Federal jurisdiction over the U.S. Internet can optimize consumer protection and a level playing field via administerable Federal rules that apply uniformly across all online services, apps, platforms, and U.S. jurisdictions.
Consumers expect the same basic rules and accountability to protect their chosen Internet experience throughout the Internet ecosystem.
The EU understood the consumer protection benefit of one uniform, consumer-centric, technology-neutral, European GDPR privacy law for its 28-member nations.
American consumers’ overall online experience today is already a chaotic voluntary patchwork of disparate overwhelming terms-of-service and privacy policies where most everyone, but the consumer, controls users’ Internet data traffic treatment.
50 State net neutrality and privacy laws would only make matters worse by effectively blocking consumers from getting comprehensive, clear, and consistent control over their Internet experience and throttling the seamless interoperability of consumers’ online experience.
The harsh reality today is that U.S. Internet policy in law puts consumer interests dead last.
Consumers should be able to control their Internet experience, i.e. connect any device to a network; know their legal Internet content choices will not be blocked or throttled; and know about, and control, how their private data is used.
The root cause of all net neutrality and online privacy partisan disagreements over the last decade plus has been prioritizing protection of a technology, industry, or platform over the protection of consumers.
Simply, true consumer-centric legislative solutions could spawn successful and complementary, bipartisan net neutrality and privacy policies, whereas technology-centric solutions predictably would devolve into yet another partisan failure to protect consumers online.
Beware of opposition to “one-size-fits-all” Internet rules and accountability from those seeking special treatment of, and commercial advantage for, their Internet technology, industry or platform, when the Internet is all about one-size-fits-all Internet protocols and the rule of law is all about no one being above the law or outside the rules.
Arbitrarily dividing the Internet by type of Internet technology for asymmetric rules and accountability, naturally divides consumers and undermines bipartisanship, because consumers are hurt and bleed the same regardless of the Internet technology that may have harmed them.
The strong bipartisan techlash over the last 16 months has spotlighted how ineffectual online consumer protection, privacy, and security has become in America and how both sides of the aisle no longer see Internet users as just numbers, products, and data, but as people who can and do vote.
In short, it is telling and ironic that consumers/voters are the only ones to which Congress has granted no Internet safe harbor.
[Originally Published at Precursor]