by Arlen Parsa
Republican presidential hopeful John McCain yesterday attended a technology conference and came out against Net Neutrality.
McCain said he did not think government regulation of internet service providers to stop them from censoring, slowing down, or otherwise disrupting consumer’s access to the internet in order to stifle competitors or undesirable content was an appropriate solution. In fact, McCain even seemed at one point to be open to ISPs censoring consumer’s internet experience to block access to competitors’ services, saying at one point “When you control the pipe you should be able to get profit from your investment.”
McCain’s comments came at the D: Al Things Digital conference in Carlsbad, California. The annual conference is organized by the Wall Street Journal and hosted by tech gurus Walter Mossberg and Kara Swisher.
McCain later added “Iâ€™m all for the government encouraging competition, but Iâ€™ve found over time that less government involvement is better.” In one publicized case which critics say was an example of ISP censorship, AOL censored email sent by their users which included links to the anti-AOL website DearAOL.com. After there was an outcry on the internet, AOL later claimed the censorship was unintentional and that a technical glitch somehow only effected emails including the URL.
“Unless there is a clear-cut, unequivocal restraint of competition, the government should stay out of it,” McCain said. “These things will sort themselves out.”
In the past, McCain has said made statements strongly favorable towards telcos. In a statement issued after a 2006 Senate hearing into the matter, McCain said “I believe that the network operators should get a return on their infrastructure investments.” He also claimed that at the same time he did not want ISPs to block internet access to consumers, but when a bill came up to prevent this type of corporate censorship, McCain opposed it.
In another move that was sure to infuriate many geeks, the 70 year old presidential hopeful also said that he would ask Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to serve on his cabinet to deal with technology issues if elected. He did not however say what position Ballmer might be hired in, but did joke that he might consider him for a diplomatic position, such as ambassador to China.
Ballmer is not known in the tech industry for his diplomatic prowess: he once threw a chair across his office saying he would “fucking kill Google” after learning that a prized employee had defected to the search giant.