CSE Cuts Through the Spin on Technology Issues

Do Americans want another administration dedicated to antitrust activism that harms consumers? Is the burgeoning Internet economy in need of onerous regulation to tame its growth? These are two of the questions voters will decide on November 7th.

The CSE Position:

The Clinton-Gore administration has a shameful antitrust record that includes government-sponsored lawsuit abuse and merger injunctions that limit innovation and harm consumers. “The next administration must learn from the mistakes of the Clinton-Gore Justice Department and Federal Trade Commission (FTC),” said CSE Center for Consumer Choice Director Erick Gustafson. “The Department of Justice has spent over $40 million tax dollars in its assault on Microsoft without any evidence of consumer harm, and the FTC directly harmed consumers with its blockage of the Staples–Office Depot Merger. It is our hope that such pernicious antitrust activism has run its course.”

The next administration will also play a defining role in the Internet economy. State revenue authorities are attempting to use e-commerce as justification for broad new authority to tax the Internet, businesses and consumers beyond state lines. In a similar attempt to increase the size and scope of government, many federal officials want to regulate the Internet under the guise of privacy. “The next president must reject specious arguments for special Internet taxes and regulations and stand up for the interests of consumers,” Gustafson said.

Where the Candidates Stand:

Gustafson documented Gov. George W. Bush’s embrace of CSE’s support of “innovation, not litigation” in a recent speech: “It appears that Gov. Bush understands that consumers benefit most when businesses are allowed to cater to their demands. In the fast-paced world of high-tech, government-sponsored lawsuit abuse can only inhibit consumer choice and slow the development of new services and technologies.”

Conversely, Vice President Al Gore is wedded to the polices of his administration. “Gore is willing to say just about anything to get elected,” Gustafson continued, “but the Clinton-Gore administration’s record on government-sponsored lawsuit abuse is clear.”

Gustafson stated that Gore’s high-tech platform would also harm consumers. “Unlike Gov. Bush’s platform which specifically calls for an Internet tax moratorium extension, both the vice president and Democratic platform are silent on the topic of discriminatory Internet taxes.” Unfortunately, on the subject of Internet regulation, the Democratic platform is quite vocal. “Vice President Gore calls for a ‘Bill of Rights for the Electronic Age’ that may sound good,” Gustafson explained, “but in practice, the ‘rights’ would trust the government, historically the worst violator of individuals’ privacy, to be in charge of regulating all information collection. Gore’s regulation would also harm small businesses that cannot afford the compliance costs and impede innovation in privacy-protecting technology.

“People interested in keeping the information-technology economic boom alive have a definite choice in this election.”