26 September 2009

Freedom is Slavery, Slavery is Freedom

The Competitive Enterprise Institute is always good for a laugh thanks to its transparent agenda (the use of the weasel word "competitive" gives it away), and it doesn't disappoint in the following, which is about the evils of net neutrality and openness:

Consider the Apple iPhone. The remarkably successful smartphone has arguably been a game-changer in the wireless world, having sold tens of millions of handsets since its 2007 launch and spurring dozens of would-be “iPhone killers” in the process. If you listen to net neutrality advocates’ mantra, you would assume the iPhone must be a wide open device with next to no restrictions. You would be mistaken. In fact, the iPhone is a prototypical “walled garden.” Apple vets every single iPhone app, and Apple reserves the right to reject iPhone apps if they “duplicate [iPhone] functionality” or “create significant network congestion.”

Why, then, has the iPhone enjoyed such popularity? It’s because consumer preferences are diverse and constantly evolving. Most users, it seems, do not place openness on the same pedestal that net neutrality advocates do. Proprietary platforms like the iPhone have advantages of their own– a cohesive, centrally-managed user experience, for one– but have disadvantages as well.

Which is fair enough. But it then goes on to say:

But under the FCC’s proposed neutrality rules, the iPhone and similar devices that place limits on the content and applications that users can access would likely be against the law.

Net neutrality has nothing to do with the edges - which is where the iPhone resides - and everything about the wiring that connects the edges. It is about preventing those who control the networks from blocking innovative services - like the iPhone - being offered across them. It would only apply if Apple owned the network and refused to allow third parties to offer rival services to its iPhone - clearly not the case. It does not forbid Apple from choosing which apps to run on the iPhone, any more than it forces Microsoft to go open source.

Painting the freedom of net neutrality as a kind of slavery in this way is really a tour-de-force of topsy-turvism, even by the high standards of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

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Unknown said...

It's 1984 all over again. Winston Smith would have no problems understanding what they are saying.

Glyn Moody said...

Indeed, although I suspect they came up with this all on their own...

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