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Republican Presidential Frontrunner McCain Skeptical About Net Neutrality

February 6, 2008

After yesterday's strong showing in the U.S. "Super Tuesday" Presidential primaries, Sen. John McCain is being cited by some political analysts as close to being the Republican nominee for President.

That being the case, I'm thinking that now would be a suitable time to examine Sen. McCain's technology policy stances.

You won't find much on this issue on his campaign web site. He's for cracking down on Internet predators. But isn't everyone?

A deeper degree of insight on McCain's tech policy views can be gleaned from reading McCain's views on net neutrality.

Sen. McCain's ideas on this subject are contained in an interview TechCrunch's Michael Arrington did with McCain a couple of weeks ago.

In the interview, McCain seemed to regard net neutrality with some trepidation. If you read the key paragraphs, it is somewhat apparent that his reason for this is that McCain regards net neutrality as running somewhat counter to his free-market views.

Follow after the jump to read the relevant passages from Mike's interview with the likely Republican Presidential nominee:

Mike Arrington: Let’s talk about net neutrality. It’s probably the most important issue in Silicon Valley, and yet it rarely makes its way to Washington-level consciousness. Barack Obama recently came out saying that he would promise to make it a priority if he became president. What is your position on the net neutrality issue?

Sen. McCain: In general, I think we need to move to a different model for thinking about the FCC. I think it should focus on policing clearly anti-competitive behavior and consumer predators. But, frankly, until some foul has been committed, I don’t think it should be interfering in the market, and probably shouldn’t be trying to micromanage American business and innovation.

This is a very tough issue, because if you look at the extremes of it, then, obviously it has significant consequences – you can’t restrain the market, you can’t say that people can’t make a living or a profit off of the Internet. That obviously is not the intent of why the Internet was invented, and the reason why it has flourished. So what I would like to do is keep an eye on what goes on with the Internet, whether people are taking unfair advantage of it, whether people are being ripped off, and how this thing progresses. The great thing about the Internet is that it has enjoyed, to a large degree, immunity from federal interference and federal regulation.

So, I have a tendency to say, look, let’s see how this thing all turns out, rather than anticipate something that, a problem that so far has not arisen in any significant way. I know that sounds a little bit equivocal, but it has a lot to do with my reluctance to use, my inclination to use government intervention only when it’s absolutely necessary.

McCain, incidentally, defines himself as computer "illiterate." But maybe there's hope. He does have an iPod.

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