The Internet changed forever this week. Antitrust Secretary Larry Strickling stated in a speech to the Media Institute that the government would soon embark upon “Internet Policy 3.0”. While the outcome of this new approach is still to be decided, we do know that it will represent a huge departure from the old way of doing things (The Register).
Until this week, the government's Internet policy had been one of benign neglect. In the web's early days, users were left mostly to their own devices. Now Uncle Sam is going to make his presence known as the Internet creeps towards adolescence. Strickling said that the old policy was the “right policy” for the “early stages of the Internet”.
Things have changed since those first, heady days. While the Internet is still comparatively young, it can hardly be said to be the same beast it was five years ago, let alone ten. As distrustful I am of government intervention into the Internet, I can't say this move is entirely without cause. The Internet is now one of the cultural and economic keystones of the human race. Quite frankly, it's too important for the government to leave alone.
Which isn't to say that this won't all end horribly. The federal government is gigantic, slow, and rarely 'up to date' in their understanding of technology. It's quite possible that this change in policy will be the first (and least) of many blunders. We're unlikely to know for several years. My advice? Sit back and enjoy the ride.
At least until the engines catch fire.