Fast, affordable Internet access for all.
But the most common form of capture is honest and may be characterised as intellectual capture. Every regulatory agency is dependent for information on the businesses it regulates. Many of the people who run regulated companies are agreeable, committed individuals who are properly affronted by any suggestion that their activities do not serve the public good. Few members of the public, by contrast, ever make contact with a regulatory agency; almost always, they are less well informed than the professionals who deal with regulatory issues. It requires a considerable effort of imagination to visualise that any industry might be organised very differently from the way that industry is organised now. So even the regulator with the best intentions comes to see issues in much the same way as the corporate officers he deals with every day. You require both an abrasive personality and considerable intellectual curiosity to do the job in any other way. And these are not the qualities often sought, or found, in regulators.This is something that most sides tend to agree on - the all too often frustrating ineffectiveness of regulatory bodies (though we only really pay attention when they fail, rather than the many silent successes). A particularly loud reaction from some is that if regulators can fail, we should simply get rid of them (read some Ayn Rand). We find this an absurd proposition, coming as it frequently does from people who simply don't understand the point of regulation in the first place (the Economist tech blog explains the point of regulation). Our reaction is to ensure essential infrastructure, in this case broadband, is structurally accountable to the public at the local level. When the community owns the network, it does not have to *hope* the FCC finally gets the policy right. It does not have to spend hundreds of thousands or millions on lawyers in a futile attempt to convince a captured Public Utility Commission. And yes, when the community owns the network, it can make mistakes. But it also has the power to learn and correct the mistakes. The solution is not simply government, but accountability.
Image Courtesy of Vaxzine on flickr, used under Creative Commons License