WASHINGTON, May 28, 2014 — The Internet is often cited as an example of the good work government government can do. So much credit is given to the U.S. government for birthing and supporting the Internet that politicians on both sides warn that if the U.S. government gives up control of domain names, there will be a disaster.
This fear has intensified in the wake of the Obama Administration’s decision to end the partnership with the International Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).
Rep. Greg Walden, R–Ore., chair of the House Subcommittee on Communication and Technology, said during hearings, “I cannot overstate the importance of freedom of the internet from government control. Nor can I overstate the threat from foreign governments who seek to control, tax, censor, and otherwise impose their own agenda on the internet.”
Iinstead of being frightened by the Obama Administration’s desire to move away from control of domain names, Walden should see this as a victory for smaller government.
The Internet is a network of networks, a global network of millions private, government, and commercial computer networks linked by optical, microwave, and other networking technologies. Some of it uses the networks created by AT&T a century ago, a network which itself was not a U.S. government invention.
Computers are built of solid-state switches, so we might claim that the Internet is the invention of AT&T’s John Bardeen, Walter Brattain and William Shockley, the inventors of the transistor. German engineer Werner Jacobi did the first work on integrated circuits in 1949, when he worked for Siemens. His work was perfected by American Jack Kilby, who not only improved on the integrated circuit, but with it invented the hand held calculator. His chip was patented in 1959. Perhaps they invented the Internet.
None of these were government inventions.
Before the launch of the internet in the early 1990’s, computer enthusiasts connected via the bulletin board system. This first “Internet” was built by private citizens, not the government. The bulletin board system had its own programmers, and it worked.
Saying the government gave us the Internet is a half truth. The modern Internet grew out of the Defense Department’s ARPANET, which used the standard Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP), but CYCLADES, Merit, Tymnet and others could have served as well. The U.S. government birthed the Internet that we have, and in doing so, it killed the Internets that might have been.
We do not need government to make the Internet work, and Walden should understand that. When bickering over control of the Internet, Walden and others with seem to have forgotten American ingenuity and where all the pieces of the Internet came from.
The free market is the way for humanity, and the future must be freedom. To achieve that, let us recognize the propaganda of government for what it is.
The free market will only fully realize it’s potential if we ourselves are more moral; the free market is based on the ideals of the highest standards of morality, not hypocrisy. Free-market conservatives should stop genuflecting at the Internet as “government in the marketplace done right” and let the marketplace deal with the Internet.