GOP Platform Touches on Protecting Internet Freedom

IT Management

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The 2012 Republican platform may have continued to demonstrate that party's slide to the far right, but the GOP seems to be taking a mostly hands-off policy when it comes to the internet. The platform, which was finalized at the 2012 Republican National Convention this week, takes a very idealistic approach to internet freedom and the competition it brings. It also gives a nod toward stringent privacy protections for those online.

The first mention of the internet in the platform is to state that there should be no regulation of political speech on the internet. Next, an entire section is devoted to the topic titled "Protecting Internet Freedom." The GOP has chosen to go with its free market sensibilities in regard to the topic, and states that it generally wants things to stay as they are. From the relevant section:

The Internet has unleashed innovation, enabled growth, and inspired freedom more rapidly and extensively than any other technological advance inhuman history. Its independence is its power. The Internet offers a communications system uniquely free from government intervention. We will remove regulatory barriers that protect outdated technologies and business plans from innovation and competition,while preventing legacy regulation from interfering with new and disruptive technologies such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 [sic] as they become crucial components of the Internet ecosystem. We will resist any effort to shift control away from the successful multi-stakeholder approach of Internet governance and toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations. We will ensure that personal data receives full constitutional protection from government overreach and that individuals retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties; the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector.

The platform mentions in several other places that the GOP opposes any diplomatic measures that would put the internet under some sort of international regulatory control, such as the UN. It also states that Republicans want to auction off any surplus spectrum to help spread broadband access and dismisses the FCC's net neutrality stance as government micromanagement.

The Republican platform, however, is not wholly libertarian with regard to the internet. There is another section in the document titled "Making the Internet Family-Friendly." It details the GOP position that internet gambling should be illegal and pays lip-service to having "service providers" protect children from internet predators.

The full text of the 2012 Republican Platform can be seen on the GOP website.