The Feds want to control the Internet
by Chip Wood
Remember when Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who was the speaker of the House of Representatives at the time, said we had to pass Obamacare to find out what’s in it?
Well, the same thing is happening today with the Internet. The Obama Administration has produced a 322-page document proposing new controls over the Internet. They’re doing in the name of “net neutrality.” And so far, the public has not been allowed to see a single page of the plan.
But you can be sure that any Fed proposal that is 322 pages long won’t promote more freedom.
The plan is for the Federal Communications Commission to approve a proposal that will in effect turn the Internet into a regulated monopoly. And you know who will be doing the regulating! The FCC vote is to take place a week from today.
Ajit Pai, one of two Republican members of the commission, issued a statement warning of the consequences of the new rules. He said, “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”
One consequence of the new regulations, Pai says, could be massive new taxes on Internet use: “The plan explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband… These new taxes will mean higher prices for consumers and more hidden fees that they have to pay.”
Hey, what else would you expect from another federal power-grab?
But more taxes won’t be the only consequence of the new regulations. Pai warns that another will be fewer choices for consumers: “The plan saddles small, independent businesses and entrepreneurs with heavy-handed regulation that will push them out of the market. As a result, Americans will have fewer broadband choices. This is no accident. Title II was designed to regulate a monopoly. If we impose that model on a vibrant broadband marketplace, a highly regulated monopoly is what we’ll get.”
Tom Wheeler, the chairman of the FCC, offers a completely different spin on what’s about to happen. Like all bureaucrats, he says the new regulations will be good for consumers: “I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open internet protections ever proposed by the FCC. These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services.”
Barack Obama claims that his Administration’s campaign for so-called “net neutrality” is all about making the Internet operate more smoothly for consumers. “You know what it feels like when you don’t have a good Internet connection,” he explained last month. “You try to download a video and you’ve got that little circle thing that goes round and round. It’s really aggravating.”
Yeah, sure. It’s the same old “we’re doing this for your own good” argument that bureaucrats have always used to defend their assaults on the marketplace.
The Obama Administration knows that there isn’t one chance in a million that a Republican-controlled Congress would give a Democrat-controlled federal agency like the FCC this sort of authority. So instead of getting new legislation passed, the FCC wants to use an 80-year-old act of Congress to justify its actions. Basically, what the FCC will do is declare that the 1934 Communications Act gives it all the authority it needs to regulate the Internet today.
This will be the third time during the Obama Administration that the FCC has tried to expand its control over the Internet. Both previous efforts were ruled unconstitutional by federal courts. The latest decision came on Jan. 14, 2014, from the federal appeals court in Washington.
Pai says, “There’s no reason to think that the third time will be the charm. Even a cursory look at the plan reveals glaring legal flaws that are sure to mire the agency in the muck of litigation for a long, long time.”
The more tyrannical a government is, the more it needs to control the information its citizens receive. Right now, there is nothing the Obama Administration can do to limit what you read (or share) on the Internet. Thank goodness.
But it won’t take much for that to change. And this FCC power-grab could mark the first step down that very slippery slope. Let’s hope Congress or the courts slap down the regulators again.
Until next time, keep some powder dry.