There was the usual ‘heated debate’. For fun, we got to SMS our views onto a screen behind him during the speech (actually a bit off-putting if you were trying to concentrate).
Bill argued that since Microsoft is already planning a secure ‘trusted’ computing environment on the PC and the Net (read ‘copyright friendly’ etc) we should wake up to the fact that government has its own regulatory power. At least we can sack politicians. Who can sack Gates?
Furthermore, Bill said we should think about creating a ‘freespace’ (my description) online which sits ‘on top’ of the regulated Net.
Of course the argument was more detailed than that so I encourage you to visit the relevant sites.
For the slashdot geeks out there who don’t believe in any regulation, consider this. Bill (like other people) has kids. Now, he’d rather not put his young kids onto corporate, child-friendly, but bland AOL than onto the wild Net. But, at the moment, he can’t allow his kids just to go online as it stands. So why can’t government get involved? At the end of the day, ordinary people will go where they won’t get spammed, porned, or swindled. If the government won’t regulate the Net, then people will vote with their feet, leave the Web etc and just join the commercial networks. And then were will we be?
(Posted after a few beers so apologies for any mistakes).