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Plea to FCC on Net Neutrality vote - Don't mess with the Internet!

By Dr. Harold Pease

       It is difficult to say what mankind's greatest crowning technological achievement has been but it is likely the Internet, which emerged and operates without a central governing body - just like most everything in a free society. It has no centralized governance for either technology or policies but is guided by the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) for the allocation and assignment of various technical identifiers needed for its operation.UCLA and Stanford University are the educational institutions most associated with its development, as is the name Jon Postel who helped guide it through three decades, but contributors are too numerous to name.
       My point: it moved and shaped itself as needs developed without big government resulting in a technological tsunami wave unparalleled in human history for the benefit of everyone on earth and it will continue to do so best without government interference.
       Enter Barack Obama, who has made no pretense of his desire to regulate the Internet. The takeover begins slowly, without review from Congress or any body except the president's Federal Communications Commission, and is to remain largely silent. The FCC, will meet Feb. 26, 2015, in a quiet room and vote whether or not the government should control the Internet. Government always chooses to enlarge itself, so there exists little hope that the vote, making them more powerful, will be in the negative.
       It is easy to see why governments want control of this medium. Its existence promotes freedom from excessive government. Totalitarian states such as North Korea, China, Russia and even Iran have long ago restricted information adverse to them getting to their people.
       Deceptively the takeover is called Net Neutrality, named by the government to infer that its officials will protect us from other entities having undo influence over the Internet - a threat that is totally unfounded, as demonstrated by the Internet's superb three-decade management of itself. There exists nothing neutral about Net Neutrality, which gives the FCC the power to decide what Internet service providers can charge and how they operate. Freedom is often lost in the name of freedom. This will not end well for freedom buffs or the free market.
       Reportedly the FCC has planned on applying Title II (common carrier) of the Communications Act of 1934 to the Internet since April 23, 2014. The president encouraged the process Nov. 10.
       The Republican House discussion draft bill of Jan. 16 opposes the takeover, which would reclassify Internet service from one of information to one of telecommunications, such as radio or television, enabling the decades-old rules over the other mediums to apply to the Internet at the discretion of the FCC alone. Thus bloggers and others who use the Internet to influence policy and campaigns could be limited or taxed.
       So far Republican opposition is weak and Democratic opposition is non-existent. Conservatives view the takeover as a means of silencing them, much the same way that Obama has used the IRS to silence the Tea Party Movement. Liberals are mixed: strong advocates of individual liberty such as the “right to die” or use marijuana without government say so, but wanting to support their president. They need to be reminded that conservative Richard Nixon used government agencies to silence them as well.
       If one wants to see where government regulation of the Internet can lead it can be found in a “free” country such as the Netherlands. For them providing Net Neutrality in practice recently meant a stiff fine for a company offering an app enabling folks to stream HBO channels without charging for data usage. In an Internet free world the app would be a welcomed invention. The company was also accused of influencing its customers' online behavior by doing so, which is not allowed either.
       It is expected that the FCC will vote for approval. Although the agency is taking public comment, it has not released the text of its 332-page plan for public review. The takeover will happen without cameras or media comment, and government agents will too soon fan out over the land looking for people to tax or criminalize, and a serious blow to freedom will have occurred almost without notice.
       This is a time to phone your congressperson and two senators. You must demand that the FCC make its plans public, and that the Congress, which is constitutionally required to make ALL the laws as per Article I, Section I, perform its responsibilities, rather than sit by and let unelected bureaucrats do so.

       Dr. Pease is a specialist on the United States Constitution and its application to current events. He has taught history and political science for more than 25 years at Taft College. To read more of his weekly articles, go to libertyunderfire.org.

       To comment directly to the FCC on Net Neutrality (technically titled "14-28 - Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet"), go to http://www.fcc.gov/comments, and click on 14-28.

(Posted 2/19/15; Opinion: General)

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