An update from Christina, a junior CCPA major with minors in business and psychology:
As we walked into the building that housed the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation, I had very little idea that I would be discussing an issue that I would soon become deeply fascinated by and concerned with how it affected decisions in public policy.
(In photo: The White House by night.)
Net neutrality is a controversial topic that I acquainted myself with before the trip, or should I say, tried to acquaint myself. Only thing was that when I was researching it, I had a hard time really grasping the concept of what it meant to be pro net neutrality.
The first stop on the trip at Google clearly defined what net neutrality is and how it would affect Internet users. Net neutrality is basically allowing Internet users to use the Internet free of restrictions.
Rob Atkinson at ITIF engaged my thinking beyond the definition. Before our discussion with him, I had the chance to read up on some of his recent published articles. One article stood out completely: “Who’s Who in Internet Politics: A Taxonomy of Information.” This article went into depth about different subgroups of main players in IT politics – cyber-libertarians, social engineers, free marketers, moderates, moral conservatives, old economy regulators, tech companies and trade associations, and brick-and-mortars – and each player’s attitude about the Internet: individual empowerment vs. societal benefit and laissez-faire vs. government regulation. The dominant subgroup is composed of engineers who are on the government-regulation side of the spectrum.
Atkinson considers himself a moderate as a driving force for economic growth and social progress, and a “wonk” because he supports the side of an issue that allows for innovation and digital transformation while never limiting growth. I definitely got the impression that ITIF and, more specifically, Atkinson have a narrow and single focus on technology. Their ideology seemed to be mostly moderate centralism, where you really need to increase spending in technology without destabilizing economic support.
It’s hard to imagine that one day I will be able to originate such distinctive ideas about net neutrality or other political issues and have someone walk up to me and not only quote me, but also have a meaningful conversation about what it directly means to them.