The Net Neutrality Power Grab

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The Internet is the modern day equivalent of the Wild West: free-wheeling, raucous and full of opportunity. Trillions of dollars now flow along the information superhighway and an enterprising entrepreneur can cash in with little more than a good idea and the few bucks necessary to secure a domain. FCC bureaucrats will inevitably change all that. Government regulation always involves the three innovation killing concepts of licensing, standards and rules. Regulators are only capable of looking backwards, in order to design a system capable of managing the world they understand, rather than helping to explore the frontiers of new worlds that few could imagine. When and if the FCC grabs hold of the Internet in the United States, their grasp will inevitably tighten – slowly but surely – and squeeze untold billions of dollars of growth out of the economy, simply because regulation is the sworn enemy of innovation.

Yet, that might not be the worst of it. The organizations that have championed “net neutrality” are the same groups that long for the return of the “fairness doctrine,” the arcane FCC policy that effectively stifled free speech and shut down the marketplace of ideas. Is there any doubt that organizations like MoveOn.org and the Open Society Institute would love to see the FCC use its licensing power to reduce the influence of conservative outlets on the web?  Not that prominent leftists would encourage the FCC to do so, at least not at the beginning. The trick to using bureaucracy to further one’s agenda is understanding that regulatory agencies are like glaciers; they move slowly, but there’s no stopping them once inertia and gravity kicks in. Establishing the “right” of the FCC to regulate the Internet is the key. Once that happens, the unstoppable progress of the regulatory behemoth is inevitable. In leftist dreams, the FCC will start by regulating access to the Internet, move on to defining how that access is provided and, at some point in the not so distant future, publish rules that limit access to only those sites that have been government approved.

Republicans have vowed to fight the FCC’s ruling, but they probably don’t have the votes to overturn the decision. The GOP may entice enough Democrats to pass a bill negating net neutrality in 2011, but they don’t appear to have enough votes to overcome an expected veto by Barack Obama. The courts may offer a better and lasting solution. Lawsuits are already in progress, asking the judiciary to decide whether access to the Internet is a right protected by the First Amendment or a privilege subject to government control. It is on this battleground that the doctrine of net neutrality will ultimately rise or fall. The free exchange of ideas that the Internet represents is a most dangerous enemy to the left and they will stop at nothing to grab control of this powerful forum. Their success or failure, it would seem, will hinge upon the judgments of a few jurists dressed in black robes and how they interpret our Constitutional guarantees to exchange ideas and information.

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  • Jim

    The left as usual engages in the closing of the mind

  • Jim

    The left as usual engages in the closing of the mind.

  • aspacia

    The only place where internet access is restricted is the workplace. I have always been able to access any sites of interest.

    The author is correct; this is a government power and tax grab.

  • Gamaliel Isaac

    One thing I've noticed about the Obama administration is that they preempt concerns about their policies by claiming that those policies will achieve the opposite of what the problem they will create. For example the disastrous Start treaty that they pass will jeopardize National security so Obama argues that it is necessary for National Security. The obvious concern about regulation of the internet is they will try and suppress criticism of their administration (and of Muslims and so on) on the internet so they claim that are protecting our freedom to have unrestricted access to web sites. This is a clever form of deception worthy of George Orwell.

  • Denny Rossbach

    The new rules allow tiered pricing (read more $ for more bandwidth). SInce video will eventually cost more under FCC rules — and the most pervasive use of video is currently for advertising, we will soon be paying for adds and popups much as we pay for adds in linear media. When advertisers are eventually legally blocked (it is hard to believe the FCC can allow random advertisers to increase individual billing rates without consent) The entire freedom of the Net will be at risk, as will a large number of ad-based businesses. If this is allowed to stand, we will ultimately loose the freedom of the net.

  • davarino

    Its funny how the supposed proponents of free speech are the ones trying to squelch it. Just cause they cant get their ideas accepted by the public they deem this as unfair and see that the gov needs to step in and remedy the problem. The problem is their ideas stink and the majority of people do not flock to hear such nonsense.

  • USMCSniper
  • welldoneson

    Regulating the internet is the conceit of totalitarian regimes such as we see in China and Venezeula. The reasons the Obama admin. is giving are utterly stupid. They don't care, as long as they can give some so-much-hot-air reasons they know they can slam it through.

    That the U. S. gov't is trying to do it only provides evidence that Obama is
    1) a Marxist-inspired bureaucrat face-man
    2) the regulations his admin. is proposing are written behind the scenes
    by extremists who remain as anonymous as is Obama himself.

    Never have we known LESS about a President than this galloot.
    I hate the Democrats for this. They have gone WAY too far.

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