Once champions of the Internet’s Wild West, a re-envisioned movement has left them behind. Now the GOP is digging in its spurs as it seeks to rebrand a party viewed as technology illiterate and gain redemption for backing much maligned anti-piracy legislation.
It’s also a convenient sounding board for just about everything else.
Internet freedom now gets linked to tax bans, United Nations treaties and small government. Lawmakers have tied the term to everything from Justice Department investigations to American pride. Reinvigorated by the revolt of a region, Web rights have gone on to embody a much broader political agenda.
“People use it for their own purposes,” said Gigi Sohn, co-founder of Public Knowledge, an organization that pushes for open Internet. Republicans especially, she said, take it to mean “absolutely no government, consumer competition protection and no regulation whatsoever.”
Lawmakers see a born fit.