Ex-Obama tech chief: Egypt crisis makes case for net neutrality

Former Google executive and White House deputy chief technology officer Andrew McLaughlin used the communications crackdown in Egypt to argue in favor of net-neutrality regulations on Monday.

In an unprecedented move, authorities in Egypt have interrupted Internet access for virtually the entire nation. Democracies can glean a thing or two from this, McLaughlin wrote in The Guardian.

The lesson: Net-neutrality rules are “important to prevent networks from installing tools and capabilities that could be abused in moments of crisis,” McLaughlin said, adding that dictatorships and authoritarian regimes will take “quite the opposite” lesson from the crisis. 

McLaughlin also made the case against consolidation in the communications industry, which he says facilitated the shutdown.

The Internet crackdown “was possible because Egypt permitted only three wireless carriers to operate, and required all Internet service providers (ISPs) to funnel their traffic through a handful of international links,” he wrote. 

That provides another lesson for democracies, McLaughlin said: “Diversity and complexity in our network architectures is a very good thing.”

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