Platform Internet policy: Dems vs. GOP

Both the Democrats and Republicans aired their respective Internet policies in new party platforms. There are some profound and important differences between the two, both in tone and in wording. Essentially, the Democrats want to protect the open Internet, and the Republicans do not. The Democrats are committed to universal broadband and the Republicans aren't.

Both parties agree that the Internet must be protected from malfeasance and disruption by both domestic and foreign threats. But the Republican concern is focused on governance; they're against it, whether domestic or foreign. "We will remove regulatory barriers," they say, and they will fight any trend "toward governance by international or other intergovernmental organizations."

They're concerned about a threat to personal data by third parties, but primarily they want "full constitutional protection from government overreach." And they conclude that "the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector."

The Republicans make no mention of any national attempt to extend Internet access or increase broadband. The Democrats, however, say, "President Obama has committed to ensuring that 98 percent of the country has access to high-speed wireless broadband Internet access."

Moreover, while the Republicans are implicitly opposed to net neutrality, the Democrats say, "President Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet," one "that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice, and free speech." Further the Democratic platform wants and Internet "unfettered by censorship or undue violations of privacy," without specifying whether these threats come from the public or private sector.

And, while the Republicans concentrate on governmental intrusion, the Democrats are broader. "That's why," said the platform, "the administration launched the Internet Privacy Bill of Rights and encouraged innovative solutions such as a Do Not Track option for consumers."

In all, the ideological divide that underlies our constant political conflict is reflected in the parties' approach to Internet policy. Although Speed Matters can see areas of agreement with both parties, it's evident which one better reflects our concern with fairness, privacy and high-speed Internet access for everybody.

2012 Democratic National Platform

2012 Republican Party Platform

Democrats part with GOP on net neutrality, online privacy
(National Journal, Sep. 4, 2012)