Rand Paul Defends Internet Freedom

On Thursday, Senator Rand Paul delivered a speech on internet freedom at the Heritage Foundation. While not claiming to be an expert in technology, he has begun to immerse himself in looking at issues in regards to internet regulation and his opinion is no different from his father’s and that is less regulation is better and look to keep the federal government out of it all together. Sen. Paul also got a huge laugh from the crowd when he added to his comments, “I did not invent the internet.”

Rob Bluey set the stage for the speech in his column,

One of those declarations attracted the support of hundreds of individuals and organizations across the political spectrum. Its broad language won over a diverse mix of supporters that ranged from Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Patrick Ruffini on the right to Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) and Eli Pariser on the left.

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The other declaration proclaimed to be the free-market vision for Internet freedom. Spearheaded by TechFreedom and the Competitive Enterprise Institute, it sought to clarify why government shouldn’t interfere with the Internet. It served as a contrast to the more ambiguous declaration that liberals will predictably use to push net neutrality.

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Conservatives need clarity on the issue — and a champion of the cause. Four years ago, Sen. John McCain’s campaign couldn’t even find a surrogate to represent the presidential candidate at Wired’s debate on tech policy.

That can’t happen again in 2012. And that’s why Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) plays such an important role. As a freshman lawmaker and tea-party conservative, Paul is stepping up to the plate to lead on the issue. His supporters at the Campaign for Liberty have endorsed the free-market declaration and are rallying libertarian-leaning activists to embrace the issue.

An online document titled Declaration of Internet Freedom provides a quick insight into just what is meant but such a position, so that there is no misunderstanding:

We believe freedom to be an essential condition of human flourishing and technological progress. We see the Internet (and digital services in general) as the vehicle for the greatest expansion of freedom in human history to date. Yet we recognize that the “Internet” of tomorrow may look nothing like the Internet of today. No one can plan the Internet’s evolution. The best policymakers can do is to respect the following core principles of “Internet Freedom”

In that declaration there are eight principle pillars of internet freedom: Humility, Rule of Law, Free Expression, Innovation, Broadband, Openness, Competition, and Privacy. Each of these are clearly defined so that they cannot be contrued as something that they are not.

Senator Paul, in expounding on a few of these pillars, was also joined by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), a leading conservative, who will serve as co-chairman of the platform committee at the RNC.

Paul launched right into the issue by pointing out that the biggest issue at stake is privacy, or what the Fourth Amendment refers to as ‘security.’ While I wished Senator Paul had read Judge Andrew Napolitano’s book It’s Dangerous To Be Right When The Government Is Wrong to respond to naysayers of privacy, he did make a valid point and that was that though the use of the term ‘privacy’ is not in the Constitution, neither is the “right to private property.” To be clear though, both are inherently in the document.

But he did follow up very well in stating that the Constitution was to limit the scope and power of the federal government and granted them certain powers and what it didn’t grant them was left to the states. He also pointed out that rights were specific to individuals and that not all rights are contained in the Bill of Rights. These, he said, come from God, our Creator and they “precede the Constitution.” This is what the Ninth Amendment was for:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

He also stood up for those who were intimately involved in inventing the internet and he said by people claiming that government invented the internet is not true and demeans the individuals involved in its creation, which is what should be extolled.

Paul said that government is not “agile,” which is what is needed if they were to construct any type of regulation simply because of the speed in which changes in technology take place.

He said that internet companies and people who work in the internet should be protected from anti-trust lawsuits by government. His illustration was that large companies that might share information in order to stop internet attacks on their sites should not be at risk of a lawsuit by the government and I agree. They shouldn’t be. He also said it should work the other way around. If government computers are getting attacked by “viruses or worms” then they should share that information with private companies on exactly how they are being attacked so that those companies can guard against it.

Senator Paul also said he did not like the way that government employs regulation in the first place. They are not narrow and specific at times and this will translate over into a large federal government writing massive legislation to solve a simply problem, which would open up “Pandora’s box” according to Paul. We saw just this this week when the Senate Democrats tried to sneak in gun control in a cybersecurity bill.

This is only the beginning, and much like his father, I’m sure we’ll be hearing more on this subject and the promotion of freedom and liberty when it comes to the internet from Senator Paul rather than more government regulation, which will only impede the internet and the people.

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