THE TELECOM INDUSTRY EFFORT TO DEREGULATE IP-ENABLED SERVICES THROUGH CREATION OF A DIGITAL IMAGINARY

Gwen Shaffer

Abstract


This study applies critical discourse analysis to examine how language influences digital technology policies. Specifically, the researcher examined how lawmakers and telecommunications providers symbolically associated widely supported ideas—including net neutrality, job creation, technological innovation and consumer protection—with deregulation of phone and broadband services. These concepts, which frequently clash with the actual intent of the legislative proposals, have become central to the “digital imaginary” created by the telecom lobby. More than 30 states have adopted legislation that eliminates or reduces the authority of local and state agencies to regulate voice-over Internet protocol (VoIP) telephone services. The discourse surrounding passage of VoIP deregulation provides key insights into how culturally symbolic phrases are used to legitimize arguments, even when they clash with reality. The analysis focuses on about a dozen state bills modeled after legislation written by the American Legislative Exchange Council, a conservative corporate-member group.

Full Text:

PDF