Where the Party Platforms Stand on Internet Issues
Where the Party Platforms Stand on Internet Issues
Where the Party Platforms Stand on Internet Issues

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    With less than 10 weeks to go before the election, Republicans and Democrats released party
    platforms outlining their visions for the future. Below is a comparison on
    where the parties stand on broadband adoption, net neutrality rules, spectrum
    auctions, and intellectual property protections.

    1. Internet Freedom-

    D- “The Obama administration has led the world to
    recognize and defend Internet Freedom – the freedom of expression, assembly,
    and association online for people everywhere ­– through coalitions of countries
    and by empowering individuals with innovative technologies.”

    R- “The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled
    growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other
    technological advance in human history. Its independence is its power. The
    Internet offers a communications system uniquely free from government

    PKWhile both
    platforms highlight “Internet freedom” as a priority and recognize its capacity
    for innovation, they differ on how that freedom is defined and how it should be
    maintained. Both parties have led and opposed efforts to expand and limit aspects
    of the Internet. “Internet freedom” has meant a variety of different
    things to different people, including freedom from government censorship and
    surveillance; freedom of users from intermediary control; and freedom of
    intermediaries from government regulation.

    2. Open Internet-

    D- “President Obama is
    strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment
    innovation, creativity, consumer choice, and free speech, unfettered by
    censorship or undue violations of privacy.”

    R- “We will remove regulatory
    barriers that protect that protect outdated technologies and business plans
    from innovation and competition, while preventing legacy regulation from
    interfering with new and disruptive technologies such as mobile delivery of
    voice video data as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem.”

    PK- “Legacy
    regulation” is frequently used to refer to net neutrality rules enacted under
    the current Administration, which Republicans would overturn. 

    3. Spectrum

    D- “We are finding
    innovative ways to free up wireless spectrum and are building a state of the
    art nationwide, interoperable, public safety network.”

    R- “We call for an inventory of federal agency spectrum to
    determine the surplus that could be auctioned for the taxpayer’s benefit.

    “The current Administration has conducted no auction of
    spectrum, has offered no incentives for investment, and through the FCC’s net
    neutrality rule, is trying to micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad

    PK- Although both platforms recognize the importance of
    wireless spectrum, the
    platform supports the auction of public spectrum to communications companies as
    a revenue generator.  Republicans
    have tended to argue that conditions on the use of the spectrum reduces
    investment in infrastructure, while Democrats tend to argue that conditions are
    necessary to protect consumers from anticompetitive behavior by spectrum

    4. Broadband Adoption-

    D- “We
    will ensure that America has a 21st century digital infrastructure – robust
    wired and wireless broadband capability, a smarter electrical grid, and
    upgraded information technology infrastructure in key sectors such as health
    care and education. President Obama has committed to ensuring 98 percent
    of the country has access to high-speed wireless broadband Internet access.”

    R- “We encourage public-private partnerships to provide predictable
    support for connecting rural areas so that every American can fully participate
    in the global economy.”

    “With special recognition of the role university technology
    centers are playing in attracting private investment to the field, we will
    replace the administration’s Luddite approach to technological progress with a
    regulatory partnership that will keep this country the world leader in
    technology and telecommunications.”

    PK- The FCC has
    reported that broadband is not yet being deployed in a reasonable or timely
    fashion. 19 million Americans lack access to fixed broadband, including
    one-third of tribal lands. The public-private partnerships mentioned in the Republican
    platform include programs like Comcast’s
    to Compete
    program. This program
    allows families to apply for low-speed discounted broadband services after
    showing that they meet certain criteria, such as their children being eligible
    for subsidized school lunches.

    5. Intellectual

    D- “The administration is vigorously protecting U.S. intellectual
    property – our technology and creativity – at home and abroad through better enforcement
    and innovative approaches such as voluntary efforts by all parties to minimize
    infringement while supporting the free flow of information. Customs seizures of
    counterfeit drugs are up 600 percent and seizures of fake consumer safety and
    critical technology have increased nearly 200 percent; the Department of
    Justice has aggressively prosecuted the illegal overseas transfer of trade

    R- “Thus, a
    president will insist on
    fully parity in trade with China and stand ready to impose countervailing
    duties if China fails to amend its current policies. Counterfeit goods will be
    aggressively kept out of the country. Victimized private firms will be
    encouraged to raise claims in both U.S. courts and the World Trade
    Organization. Punitive measures will be imposed on foreign firms that
    misappropriate American technology and intellectual property.”

    PK- The Obama Administration
    has also
    seized domestic domain sites for indefinite periods of time under accusations
    of hosting infringing content. Members of both parties were also supporters of
    recent SOPA/PIPA legislation that was sold to Congress by the entertainment
    industry as a means to protect American content creators and profits. In
    emphasizing IP enforcement, neither party mentions the threat of overzealous
    enforcement impinging on free speech or technological innovation.

    6. Trans Pacific
    Partnership and Free Trade Agreements

    D- “[We] are on track to
    finalizing track to finalize the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement, a
    historic high-standard agreement that will address new and emerging trade
    issues, lower barriers to the free flow of trade and investment, increase
    exports, and create more American jobs.

    “Last year the President signed free trade agreements with Panama and
    Columbia -agreements that will significantly boost U.S. exports and support
    thousands of jobs here at home – while protecting labor rights, the
    environment, and intellectual property.”

    R- “A Republican President will
    complete negotiations for a Trans-Pacific Partnership to open rapidly
    developing Asian markets to U.S. products. Beyond that, we envision a worldwide
    multilateral agreement among nations committed to the principles of open
    markets, what has been called a “Reagan Economic Zone,” in which free
    trade will truly be fair trade for all concerned.”

    PK- The Trans Pacific Partnership,
    currently being negotiated in secret, contains a chapter on intellectual
    property. Leaked versions of the proposed language, and comparison with free
    trade agreements passed over the past several years indicate that the copyright
    provisions in the proposed treaty could require stricter interpretations of
    copyright law than is currently in U.S. law.