Bush and Other Politicians Challenge Open Internet in the U.S.

by Tracy Knauer •

Jeb Bush’s campaign lashed out against the Federal Communications Commission’s “Net Neutrality” policy recently, placing the principle of an open, anonymous Internet in the United States in question.

Bush’s campaign website posted a page on Sept. 22 titled “The Regulatory Crisis in Washington.” As an example of what Bush’s supporters see as the need to rein in government regulation, the document cites the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule, which the federal agency adopted last February.

The Net Neutrality rule guarantees what the FCC describes as an “Open Internet” in the United States. The policy forbids ISPs or other service providers from allowing online content companies to pay in order to deliver their content at faster speeds than competitors.

More generally, the rule also says that service providers “may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.”

The Bush campaign did not elaborate on how it would change the FCC Net Neutrality rules, and Bush himself did not directly address the issue. Still, if a new administration were to invalidate the Open Internet policy, it could become easier for both government and private entities to block certain content or restrict services in the United States.

What’s more, this is not the first time the Bush campaign has spoken out against policies that privilege Internet openness and privacy. In August, he also criticized end-to-end data encryption, saying, “If you create encryption, it makes it harder for the American government to do its job – while protecting civil liberties – to make sure that evildoers aren’t in our midst.”

By the way, Bush is hardly the only presidential hopeful with a less-than-perfect record when it comes to digital openness and privacy. For example, on the other side of the political spectrum, Hillary Clinton (although a supporter of the FCC’s Net Neutrality rule) has supported the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the Protect IP Act (PIPA), which curtail certain privacy protections when sharing content online.

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