Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Post-Comcast Internet

It is something to celebrate: the Internet survived the proposed U.S. cable merger. Comcast hadn’t faced even a single procedural defeat when it ran up the white flag. But Comcast found it didn’t own as much of Congress as it thought it did, so that the prospect of a Justice Department brief was enough of a setback to send it running away.

This is a victory not just for the Internet users and TV viewers who are customers of the companies involved. The proposed cable monopoly would have controlled more than 5 percent of all the electronic communication in the world. It would have wielded more power than countries like Russia or France, more than companies like Google and Amazon, in shaping the global agenda. After all, it would be in a position to block Russia or Amazon at the click of a mouse. If it had also succeeded in its campaign to overturn the principles of net neutrality, it would have been in a position to decide not just what video content people could watch, but whose voices would be heard and whose would be squelched. That is a worry we can now sweep away, at least for the moment. There is an opening now to create the post-Comcast Internet. Let’s hope people can use this window of freedom to solve some of the world’s problems.