National Journal's Techology Daily asked me to help them launch their new blog with a short entry related to today's election. Since most of you probably don't subscribe and because I didn't give away my copyright, I'll reprint it here.
From Public Knowledge's perspective, there is no clear answer for what constitutes a “good” outcome for this election. Take our two biggest issues: digital copyright and net neutrality. Regarding copyright, our message that government should not interfere with technological innovation resonates more with Republicans – one reason for that is the historically close relationship between the entertainment industry and Democrats. There are exceptions, most notably Reps. Rick Boucher (D-VA) and Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), who understand that the relentless march to stronger copyright is anti-consumer. Particularly in the Senate, where Senator John Sununu (R-NH) is the most articulate voice against technology mandates, our best friends are largely Republicans.
But everything flips when PK advocates for enforceable net neutrality requirements for broadband providers. Here, our support is overwhelmingly Democratic with a sprinkling of Republicans (for example, Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Rep. Heather Wilson (R-NM)). Republicans argue that net neutrality requirements are unnecessary “regulation of the Internet.” Democrats say (and PK agrees) that the public and small companies will be harmed without a non-discrimination requirement.
Regardless of today's outcome, PK still has to deal with the 109th Congress. The “lame duck” session starts next week, and we will have our eyes and ears open for attempts to pass tech mandates or a telecom bill without net neutrality. We'll start worrying about the 110th in December.
These mixed feelings may surprise some of our adversaries, who like to portray PK as a left liberal Democratic organization. But the truth is that PK is politically and ideologically diverse, leaning more towards the libertarian than the liberal. Which may explain why the organization sometimes take positions (for example on video franchising and DRM) that are at odds with our public interest/cyberliberties friends and colleagues. What unites us is our belief that government should promote, and not impede, democratic values like openness, access, creativity and innovation. Perhaps the best election outcome for PK would be one that brings to Congress more members who share these values.