“End the Fed” giving way to “Internet Freedom?”

Some interesting developments in the Ron Paul camp this week. The Pauls issued a document called “The Technology Revolution: A Campaign for Liberty Manifesto” and are saying that the cause of “Internet Freedom” will displace their campaign to end the Federal Reserve as their top priority. Full Buzzfeed article

Among the arguments made by the manifesto, which is a quick read:

  1. Apple created 500,000 jobs in 5 years without any help from the government.
  2. Privately owned broadband infrastructure should not be regulated by “net neutrality.”
  3. Private sector data collection practices should not be scrutinized and limited by the government.

So, it is basically a statement that the government should not be regulating tech companies. Quoting Ludwig von Mises: “When government seeks to solve one problem, it creates two more.”

I was hoping the document would contain some discussion of how we should combat threats to liberty coming from Big Broadband, Big Tech and Big Data, but I was disappointed.

Paul insiders say that this will be the key issue Rand will connect with the Paul supporters on (to date, he’s had some trouble rallying support from his father’s base, especially since he endorsed Mitt Romney). But I doubt that defending the liberties of big corporations will appeal to their libertarian base. Most Ron Paul supporters and most young, tech-savvy people in general are at least as wary of tyranny coming from big corporations as they are of tyranny coming from government. I am not sure they have their priorities straight — I despise tyranny in any form but remember that the government can compel you at gunpoint and a private corporation cannot — but it remains to be seen whether Paul’s base will it this way.

Either way, the Pauls are at least partially right — if it gets used at all, government intervention should be the last tool used against threats posed to liberty by technology giants. Who is so naive as to believe that if we give the government the power to regulate and control the owners of the Internet’s infrastructure, it will not eventually seek to expand its power? When has the government ever voluntarily reduced its power to compel and regulate?

But I would like to see more discussion of what we can do to ensure equal, unlimited, and unfettered access to digital services. Ultimately the private sector is going to deliver services that reflect consumer demand, so if consumers don’t understand why their online rights are important, the private sector service won’t value those rights. If the Pauls want to appeal to techno-libertarians, they need to turn some attention toward educating consumers and finding solutions that increase individual rights on the Internet — lest we trade one set of masters for another.