Dan Primack

The latest on private equity, M&A, deals and movements — from Wall Street to Silicon Valley

Dear Mitch McConnell: What the hell are you talking about on net neutrality?

December 21, 2010: 1:27 PM ET

The Federal Communications Commission today adopted a neutered version of net neutrality, over the dissent of its Republican members.

This means that Internet service providers will not be able to block access to lawful content and websites. It does not, however, mean that ISPs wouldn't be able to establish tiered pay-for-priority systems (e.g., an extra $5 per month to get video to stream faster). The new rule also is fairly weak with regards to mobile service providers, even though the future is mobile...

So what is the GOP bitching about? Well, it seems that not allowing private corporations to censor the Internet is somehow analogous to a government takeover of the Internet. Kind of like how book burning is an expression of free speech, even if you're burning my books.

The height of disingenuous ISP pandering came earlier today on the Senate floor, when Mitch McConnell said that the proposed rule would "harm investment, stifle innovation, and lead to job losses."

Really Mitch? Do you even hear the words coming out of your mouth?

Where are the venture capitalists lining up against net neutrality, saying that they'll invest less in Internet startups if this (weak) rule is adopted? You know, the people who actually invest in innovative Internet startups.

Need to look around for them? That's okay, I'll wait...

Still can't find any? Guess that's my fault, because I sent you searching for something that doesn't really exist (save for David Cowan of Bessemer Venture Partners – whose argument mostly revolved around the "priority" issues not addressed yesterday by the FCC).

VC uniformity on this issue is clearly borne of self-interest, but that only goes to prove that VCs do not believe that the FCC's action will "harm investment" or "stifle innovation." Or are VCs so dumb that they're supporting something that will put them out of business?

It's McConnell's right to stand up for today's big corporations at the expense of their eventual rivals. But he should stop blowing smoke about why he's doing it.

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About This Author
Dan Primack
Dan Primack
Senior Editor, Fortune

Dan Primack joined Fortune.com in September 2010 to cover deals and dealmakers, from Wall Street to Sand Hill Road. Previously, Dan was an editor-at-large with Thomson Reuters, where he launched both peHUB.com and the peHUB Wire email service. In a past journalistic life, Dan ran a community paper in Roxbury, Massachusetts. He currently lives just outside of Boston.

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