Obama’s FCC lays the groundwork for government control of the Internet.
The Internet is not a natural resource. It does not grow on trees, or appear on the ground like dew on a spring morning. Nor does it operate by magic. The Internet exists only to the extent it is built, and then maintained and operated.
That requires big bucks, especially for broadband access. Broadband requires hundreds of billions if not trillions in investment to lay cables under streets, or to build and then launch satellites into orbit.
Where does that money come from? It comes from private investors. And when they put their money into the ground, or in orbit, to deliver to the people the new world of Cyberspace, those delivery vehicles are their property, just like the FedEx delivery trucks and planes that deliver your packages overnight are the property of FedEx.
Just as the government is not needed to tell FedEx what delivery routes to use, or how to get the packages to their destination overnight, it is not needed to tell Internet Service Providers and broadband operators how to deliver their access to Cyberspace. Those ISPs and broadband operators are subject to fierce market competition, and are driven by market incentives to get a return on all that investment money they put into the ground or into orbit. These factors force them to serve the people, far, far better than politics forces government to serve the people. That is why the Internet works so well.
As the Wall Street Journal explained on December 22, “There is no compelling reason to subject the Internet to more regulation. New devices and applications proliferate. Competition among broadband providers is robust, barriers to market entry low, and evidence of market failure non-existent.”
FCC Pirates Board the Ship
Yet, without compelling reason, law or even politics on their side, on December 21, on a 3-2 party line vote, the FCC voted to impose its “net neutrality” rules on the Internet. What net neutrality means is that the government now has the power to decide how ISPs and broadband operators manage the access they provide to the Internet. It is as if the government decided to regulate how FedEx delivers its overnight mail, and what routes and what vehicles they use.
The FCC starts out by proclaiming that its net neutrality rules are just meant to ensure equal access by all to the Web. But as George Orwell showed us, that is how socialism started out too, until we later discovered that some were more equal than others. Once the founding principle is laid for government regulation and control, then that power can be used to regulate and control access to the Internet “in the public interest.” In English translation, that means in the special interest of the Ruling Class. There are precedents in China and Iran for how that has worked out in practice.
Dissenting FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell explained further in the Wall Street Journal on December 20 why the FCC’s net neutrality regulation makes no sense:
Nothing is broken and needs fixing, however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and the European Commission both decided this year that net neutrality regulation was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet technology and infrastructure.
But what I have learned in life is that when something doesn’t make sense, that means there is something else behind it that people are trying to hide.
And that is exactly what we have here. For what is behind the FCC’s net neutrality crusade is reflected by an organization calling itself Free Press. That is an Orwellian title in this case, because what Free Press is for is the opposite of a free press. Free Press is one of those pseudo-Marxist front groups that Barack Obama has always traveled with so easily throughout his life. It is a grown-up, slick, sophisticated version of those campus radicals who shout down college speakers with whom they don’t agree.
That is what Free Press is after with its “net neutrality” regulation. It is laying the groundwork for government control of the Internet. Once that it is established, it will be able to shout down websites with which it doesn’t agree, if not shut them out altogether.
The entering wedge for net neutrality so far is not public freedom to access and navigate the Internet, which no one can credibly claim is not currently as free as could be. The entering wedge for now is use of Internet access and broadband services by competing commercial concerns like Netflix and YouTube, which consume huge proportions of bandwidth that can consequently interfere with use by consumers and others.
The problem has not become unmanageable yet, but threatens to be. The concern is that broadband operators will limit use of their service by other commercial operations that are effectively bandwidth hogs, to preserve the viability of their service for the general public, which is exactly what they should do. The supposed purpose of net neutrality regulation so far is to prevent broadband operators from doing this.
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