Government created the Internet? Not so much

Charles Clements (“Rules keep Wall Street from stealing Internet,” May 24) offered plenty of liberal bromides in his letter in response to my column. (“Internet regulation and the NM Technology Corridor,” May 19).

But the claim that “the Internet exists today because of publicly funded research and infrastructure creatively used by thousands of ‘non Wall Street’ riff raff” should not go uncorrected.

The belief that the Internet is a product of government foresight and “investment” is a sacred tenet of the left, but that doesn’t make it true. The real story is more complex. As economist Michael S. Rozeff observed, the Pentagon’s “ARPANET project (started in 1969) … occurred because of earlier inventions by capitalists.”

Errata Security’s Robert David Graham wrote that the Internet “is a trillion dollars of fiber optic cables laid in the ground and under our oceans. Fiber optic technology was developed by corporations, such as Corning Glassworks, not the government. The trillion dollars in capital that was used to pay for laying cable came from Wall Street, not the government.” In addition, Graham noted that “today’s Internet is based on TCP/IP — a networking standard the government tried to kill off.”

Perhaps The Wall Street Journal’s digital-media columnist L. Gordon Crovitz put it best: “The private sector played a huge role in creating the Internet. And you may recall that liberals objected strongly in the 1990s to the idea that it should become legal for everyone to use the Internet, not just academics and the military. The modern Internet flourished only after it was deregulated and opened up for all to use.”

Dowd Muska, Research Director, Rio Grande Foundation, Albuquerque

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