The Internet as Tubes?

by Bruce Stewart

There's always been the sense here in the U.S. that our lawmakers do not really grasp all the technology that they attempt to regulate, but the latest comments being widely circulated online by Senator Ted Stevens about the Internet and Net Neutrality really hit that point home in an especially scary and depressing way. Keep in mind that Senator Stevens is the Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, in other words one of the most important and influential lawmakers when it comes to telecommunications policy. Senator Stevens' latest remarks to draw the ire of technical folks across the country (and the world) are pretty dumbfounding:

I just the other day got, an internet was sent by my staff at 10 o'clock in the morning on Friday and I just got it yesterday. Why? Because it got tangled up with all these things going on the internet commercially.

Kind of reminds one of President Bush's quote about "the internets". Do these guys have even a basic understanding of what the internet is? Well, in Senator Stevens case, I think not. He went on to say:

They want to deliver vast amounts of information over the internet. And again, the internet is not something you just dump something on. It's not a truck.

It's a series of tubes.

And if you don't understand those tubes can be filled and if they are filled, when you put your message in, it gets in line and its going to be delayed by anyone that puts into that tube enormous amounts of material, enormous amounts of material.

and amazingly:

Maybe there is a place for a commercial net but it's not using what consumers use every day.

Huh?? Please someone tell me that this is just a bad dream and this guy isn't really one of the most powerful people in charge of telecom policy in this country. Alec Saunders does a good job of discecting Stevens' "tubes" theory, and Timothy Carr of MediaCitizen asks what seems like a crucial question here:

Are we ready to entrust the future of the Internet to a law written by someone who doesn't know what the Internet is?

if you have the stomach for it, Senator Stevens' remarks can be heard in their entirety here.


2006-07-07 07:59:39
Contact Senator Ted Stevens at:

Carla Schroder
2006-07-09 11:11:24
When you're as powerful as Sen. Stevens, you don't need to be informed, or even very smart. It appears that fundraising ability and raw cunning are what it takes to succeed in politics. Intelligence isn't even on the list.
Eagle Eyes
2006-07-15 13:12:52
This is very depressing indeed.