A war quietly pursued on many fronts.
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Moving all news, information and entertainment content to broadband platforms is fraught with danger, considering the rest of the administration’s scheme. Lawrence Strickling, whose position as the Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Communications and Information makes him the principal advisor to the president on telecommunications and information policy, has proposed the government regulate Internet content.
“We need Internet Policy 3.0,” he announced earlier this year, “… [because] we rely on the Internet for essential social purposes: health, energy, efficiency and education.” He added, “There [should] be rules or laws created to protect our interests.”
Strickling’s proposal got a boost when the FCC’s three Democrat Commissioners voted in lockstep to launch an effort to reclassify the Internet by moving it from the lightly regulated Title I to the heavily regulated Title II section of the that governs the FCC’s activities. Title I prohibits the FCC from exercising considerable regulatory authority over information systems. In contrast, industries such as telephony that fall under Title II are heavily regulated by the FCC.
While the administration desires to regulate content, leading Congressional Democrats propose giving the president authority to shut down the Internet and other communications platforms altogether.
Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) introduced the last year. Among the troubling provisions is one that would give the president the authority to disconnect public and private information technology systems “in the interest of national security.” Presumably it is up to the president to decide what constitutes a nation security concern precipitating the shutdown of private IT systems. The president could designate any private IT system as having to comply with his order. The president could also “order the limitation or shutdown of Internet traffic” during an undefined “cybersecurity emergency.”
Rockefeller displayed his antagonism toward the web when he asked during a 2009 hearing, “Would it had been better if we’d have never invented the Internet?” Rockefeller’s view is almost understandable when students and citizen journalists videotape Congressional Democrats and White House supporters behaving badly.
Not to be outdone, Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT) introduced a much more expansive measure. “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act 0f 2010 (S.3480)” ostensibly tackles network vulnerabilities. It gives the president “kill switch” authority to shut down the Internet for up to 30 days at a time and is renewable in perpetuity as long as the president certifies an undefined “national cyber emergency” exists.
As an aside, the single largest culprit when it comes to network vulnerabilities is the federal government. For the feds to lecture private industry in protecting their networks is patently absurd.
More trouble may be on the horizon as the House and Senate Commerce Committee chairmen announced in May their intention to “update” the Communications Act, which governs all communications policy in the U.S.
Threats against free speech become more ominous when key administration officials feel comfortable publicly calling for restrictions on the First Amendment.
Cass Sunstein, the head of the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, is hostile toward the First Amendment. He has argued in favor of government “subsidised (sic) programming,” “the government might impose ‘must carry’ rules on the most popular Websites, designed to ensure more exposure to substantive questions[,]” and the government implement a “Fairness Doctrine” for the Internet requiring some websites to offer opposing viewpoints. One can easily imagine which websites would be mandated to carry opposing viewpoints.
Another First Amendment opponent is FCC Chief Diversity Officer and the individual behind the “Future of the Media” study, Mark Lloyd. In his 2006 book Prologue to a Farce Lloyd wrote, “[M]y focus here is not freedom of speech or the press. This freedom is all too often an exaggeration.” He also asserted, “the purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance.”
Two years ago, Lloyd Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez when the strongman began his two-year run of nearly privately owned media outlet in Venezuela, ending press criticism of his government. Lloyd cheered Chavez imposing “an incredible revolution — a democratic revolution. To begin to put in place things that are going to have an impact on the people of Venezuela.”
There is little doubt that Lloyd, Sunstein, Genachowski and others throughout the Obama Administration and in Congress harbor similar hostility toward the First Amendment, a free press and popular dissent in the U.S.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?