Dear Senator Boxer,

The reform we need to see on the Internet is not redundant legislation to protect megacorps, but new legislation to protect the rights of We the People.

I am co-founder and CTO of Sonic.net, Inc., an Internet Service Provider here in California.  Since we opened our doors in 1994, we’ve seen much change on the Net — and not all of it has been good.

For example, our latest industry challenge is reinstatement of the requirement for incumbent carriers to offer loop and sub-loop fiber to competitive carriers.  This would fix the damage to our industry from the Triennial Review Order/Triennial Review Remand Order that currently grants an effective monopoly to incumbent telecom carriers — a monopoly to infrastructure bought and paid for by consumers many times over.

If this infrastructure were to be opened up to other competitive local exchange carriers (CLEC’s), the well-known capitalist mechanisms of true competition would vastly improve the reach and cost of broadband in the U.S. As it stands now, we — the country that invented the Internet — groans under the weight of duopoly trusts in virtually every U.S. market, which is regarded through most of the first world as third-rate service.

( Indeed, if it weren’t for the FCC’s program of “multimode competition” — where incumbent cable operator “competes” with incumbent telecom carrier — there would probably be no need for discussions of “network neutrality”.  Free and competitive markets would naturally adjust and remain neutral, punishing any internet service provider that tried to bias traffic. )

Another matter is one very dear to me, the matter of consolidation of media conglomerates in U.S. legacy media.  This has left a terrible bias within U.S. legacy media, which would be terrifying, were it not for alternative media available over the Net.  It’s no wonder that the last few years of Pew polls on the subject show that today, more Americans get their news from the Net, rather than newspapers.

As Milton posited in his _Areopagetica_ of 1643: when Truth and Falsehood grapple, Truth always wins in a free and open encounter.  But that cannot work if we enact legislation to codify China-esque censorship in our U.S.  Because — as we’ve seen happen in other countries already — once a censorship mechanism is in place, it becomes an “attractive nuisance”, where misguided leaders co-opt that censorship for other uses.

So when I see the PIPA/SOPA issue framed in terms of the events of the last four years, I can’t help but be cynical about the construction of such draconian and onerous censorship mechanisms.  Bluntly put:  without the Net, there would have been no social networks to facilitate the Arab Spring.  Without the Net, there would have been no President Obama in the White House.

During President Obama’s 2008 campaign, he would talk much about ending up “on the right side of history.”  Frankly, supporting PIPA/SOPA in any form is to cozy-up with the wrong side of history.

Because for Truth to win, the encounter must be free and open — without censorship.

We’ve seen it before, over and over again:  DHS abuses the tools they have been given, and there is no doubt that they will abuse such a censorship tool.  And with the SOPA/PIPA Internet blackout, We the People spoke with one voice, saying:  do not censor this.

Thank you for your time and your service,

-Scott Doty
co-founder, CTO, and VP: Sonic.net, Inc.