Landmark FCC Decision Is A Victory For Freedom Of Expression And Free Enterprise

In what PoltiFact calls ” a significant accomplishment for Obama” and a “Promise Kept,” the FCC has voted for major changes to help guarantee a free and open Internet. Net neutrality is important for freedom of expression, including helping small blogs such as this to continue, important for small business, and important to maintain the lifestyle we are becoming accustomed to, such as streaming video as an alternative to often exorbitant cable rates.

Net neutrality is a tremendous victory for freedom of expression and free enterprise. Not surprisingly, conservatives have been spreading the untrue talking points of the large telecommunications companies which fear seeing their power diminished. Whenever the goals of the powerful conflict with the best interests of the nation, we know which side conservatives will invariably side with.

There are all sorts of false claims being spread by conservatives about net neutrality, such as that it will lead to $15 billion in new taxes and will lead to either Barack Obama or the United Nations (depending upon the source) controlling the Internet. In other words, this sounds like lots of right wing conspiracy theories we have already heard.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler disputed conservative claims that the new regulations are intended to regulate communication on the Internet:

This is no more a plan to regulate the Internet than the First Amendment is a plan to regulate free speech. They both stand for the same concept: openness, expression and an absence of gatekeepers telling them what they can do, where they can go and what they can think.

The Fact Checker at The Washington Post called the claims of higher taxes false. Ron Wyden, who wrote the Internet Tax Freedom Act, debunked conservative claims that the FCC’s action would invalidate the law and result in higher taxes. This ban on taxes in will expire in October, but there is nothing stopping Congress from renewing it.

AP’s fact checking included the following:

THE CLAIM: “President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet.” — Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai.

THE FACTS: It’s a shift for sure, but the FCC hasn’t proposed regulating Internet content or controlling access to websites. The question is how to regulate Internet service so providers don’t block or slow web traffic for financial gain.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler says the only way to do that is to subject retail Internet service to Title II of the 1934 Communications Act. That would expand FCC power significantly by allowing regulators to step in if there were allegations of harm to consumers. But it’s a reach to suggest that these new powers equate to a government takeover.

Also worth noting is that the FCC is independent from the administration. While Obama has put pressure on the FCC to enact tougher regulations, and he appointed Wheeler to head the agency, this is not the president’s call.

After debunking additional claims, the article explained why this change is now needed, and not necessarily a break from previous administrations:

THE CLAIM: The FCC plan “represents a stunning reversal of the policies of the Clinton and Bush administrations.” It will backtrack on “decades of bipartisan agreement to limit Internet regulation.” — Former FCC commissioner Robert McDowell in an opinion article in The Wall Street Journal.

THE FACTS: The question of Internet “fast lanes” is far more pressing for Obama than it ever was for Clinton or Bush. In 2000, only 3 percent of American households had broadband access, compared with 70 percent by 2013, according to the Pew Research Center.

It wasn’t until President George W. Bush’s second term, in 2005, that YouTube became available and video services like Netflix became more popular. By the time the FCC voted in 2008 against Comcast for throttling Web traffic, Bush was nearing the end of his presidency.

For those who might find this all boring, here is a more entertaining explanation of net neutrality from John Oliver:

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6 Comments

  1. 1
    David Duff says:

    Your complete and utter trust in Uncle Sam would be touching if it wasn’t so hilarious.

    But in the meantime, have you still not managed to find some words on the news that Holder’s ‘apparat’, aka the non-Justice Dept., have dropped all interest in the totally innocent Mr. Zimmerman?  Er, that’s “totally innocent” as in ‘completely, 100%, no shadow of a doubt’ innocent!

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    What is hilarious is your trust in all the right wing conspiracy theories despite all the evidence that the claims are bogus claims. But it has already been clear that you have zero interest in the actual facts.

    Speaking of facts, you are also 100% wrong in your comment on Zimmerman. Holder’s decision does say anything regarding whether Zimmerman is innocent. His alleged crime was a state and not a federal matter. Not prosecuting under federal law does not mean anything about his guilt or innocence. Even if it was first degree murder, this is not a matter for the federal government. You really should learn how the system works before commenting.

  3. 3
    David Duff says:

    this is not a matter for the federal government

    So why have Holder’s legal ‘apparatchiks’ spent 19 months – repeat, 19 months! – investigating the totally innocent Mr. Zimmerman, a citizen of ‘the Land of the Free’?

    Not prosecuting under federal law does not mean anything about his guilt or innocence.

    There is no doubt concerning his “guilt or innocence”, a jury found him not guilty on all counts.  He is a totally innocent man hounded for nearly two years by a vicious, politically-influenced Dept of Justice.  And this is the sort of government you allow to take control of your internet!  What can I say except “never give a sucker an even break”!

  4. 4
    Ron Chusid says:

    The Justice Department looked into whether they should prosecute under civil rights laws, which has a very high bar to achieve a conviction under. There is nothing wrong with that considering the irregularities in our justice system when shootings of blacks is concerned.

    The government is not taking control of the internet. The new regulations help with the abusive monopolistic policies of those who now control the internet. You really think that a single company controlling internet and cable access in many areas is a good thing? You think that it is a good thing that we pay more and have slower internet speeds than most of the developed world, and that the telecommunications companies are looking at even more abusive practices?

  5. 5
    David Duff says:

    So when will they be taking over, say, the car industry, or the washing machine industry, or the house-building industry?  Not too long probably because, of course, in all these and other industries the American consumer must be, er, protected from those rascally industrialists adn we all know, do we not?, that the government really, really knows how to run things!

  6. 6
    Ron Chusid says:

    The government isn’t taking over any industries. Regulations are needed in cases of a monopoly. That is not the same as taking over or running things.

    So far the government’s track record in analogous situations has been quite good. Since the ACA came into effect we now have competition in health insurance instead of one insurance company dominating many markets, lower premiums, and an end to abuses such as insurance companies not covering people who have medical problems.

    The current efforts to provide a free an open internet are hardly a case of government taking over. It is a case of providing more opportunity for more companies to compete in our economy, as opposed to Republican policies which hinder small business.

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