By Brendan Sasso - 09/04/12 06:06 PM EDT
Although both parties declare their support for Internet freedom, they disagree on a host of Internet policy issues.
Republicans blast the Federal Communications Commission's net-neutrality order, which bars Internet service providers from slowing down or blocking access to legitimate websites. The Republican platform claims the regulation shows that the Obama administration is trying to "micromanage telecom as if it were a railroad network."
Supporters of net neutrality argue it is critical for ensuring the openness of the Internet and protecting consumer choice.
"President Obama is strongly committed to protecting an open Internet that fosters investment, innovation, creativity, consumer choice and free speech, unfettered by censorship or undue violations of privacy," the Democrats write in their platform, without explicitly mentioning net neutrality.
The Democratic platform also argues that using federal money to expand Internet access can boost the economy and create new opportunities.
"We will ensure that America has a 21st-century digital infrastructure — robust wired and wireless broadband capability, a smarter electrical grid and upgraded information-technology infrastructure in key sectors such as healthcare and education," the Democrats promise.
But Republicans criticize the administration for spending $7.2 billion in stimulus funds to expand Internet access in rural areas. Instead, they support "public-private partnerships" to connect rural areas.
The Democrats also endorse broader privacy protections for Internet users than the Republicans do.
The Democratic platform touts the White House's Privacy Bill or Rights, a declaration of voluntary principles for how Web companies should handle their customers' personal information. The platform refers to the Do Not Track option on Web browsers as an "innovative solution" to protect privacy.
The Republicans say they will ensure that personal data receives "full constitutional protection from government overreach." They also declare that individuals should "retain the right to control the use of their data by third parties."
But the GOP platform rejects government action to protect privacy, arguing that "the only way to safeguard or improve these systems is through the private sector."