Fear of a Web planet

Author Caleb Carr calls criticism of his proposal for government regulation of the Internet "puerile, naive and rather sophomoric."

Published January 24, 2001 8:30PM (EST)

Read "Fear of a Web planet" by Scott Rosenberg and "Information poisoning" by Caleb Carr

It is of course to be expected that Scott Rosenberg would disagree with the idea of subjecting the Internet to more vigorous regulation than that which governs other media, just as one expects to see Jack Valenti defending the high quality, taste and safety of contemporary movies. Such men need work, after all, and why not work for the wealthiest of masters? And so I will pass over most of his puerile, naive and rather sophomoric attempts at criticism, pausing only to point out:

He offers no alternatives to my suggestions, and therefore ignores my core argument: In American commerce you have two choices, government regulation or corporate regulation. In the absence of government regulation what we have now is corporate regulation; and such being the case, does the pithy Rosenberg really believe that he could seriously threaten any central interest of the corporate oligarchy behind information technology on the Net? He could not; that is not a healthy situation. A hundred years ago, major American industrialists argued that there should be no labor or commerce regulations because they would only hurt the "little guys," the small businessmen; and for too long, their paid henchmen in the press bought that line, crying out for free capitalism. Congratulations, Scott; you are in a noble tradition. I trust the gents at AOL Time Warner, Cisco, Yahoo and everywhere else are sending you your checks on time.

By the way, your bit of psychological profiling could not be more wrong: I have in fact "constructed a Web site" -- and how noble an undertaking you make it sound, when any moron can do it! The site is currently up and delivering thousands of eager takers. Can an experienced Web hand like you find it, I wonder? And if you do, can you tell me how much of the information it's disseminating is real and how much is bogus? But perhaps such an undertaking would interrupt your regular and vigorous schedule of cronyism and denial. And anyway, there can be no danger from bogus information on the Web, right? So what do you care? Back to cocktails!

-- Caleb Carr

By Salon Staff

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