Fixing What Isn’t Broken
Vol: 111 Issue: 21 Tuesday, December 21, 2010
If you are anything like me, you probably don’t really understand what “net neutrality” really is, or how it will really affect you. But you are against it because the government is for it and that is reason enough to oppose it right there.
Most of the Democrats in Congress favor “net neutrality” which is also an excellent reason to oppose it. There isn’t much that the government is for that actually benefits its citizens.
And there is essentially nothing that the Democrats favor that benefits the country. Just the Democrats.
There is an old joke that says that an elephant is a mouse built to government specifications. And any comedian will tell you that the funniest jokes are those that contain the strongest elements of truth.
The fact that the government would like to control the internet is not surprising. Thanks to the internet, it is a lot harder to govern than it used to be.
But if the government could control the internet, then one could see how governing could get a whole lot easier if it didn’t always have so much ‘splainin’ to do.
So there are plenty of good reasons to oppose net neutrality without knowing anything about it. Good reasons, yes, but are they sufficient?
What is net neutrality and would I be against it if it weren’t being proposed by a Democrat-controlled government? I’d to be accused of opposing it on pure partisanship – I’d like to have a better reason.
So I went digging. And I found LOTS of reasons. First off, let’s examine the government’s argument.
The FCC says it wants to regulate internet traffic to bar providers from discriminating against legal internet traffic. It says that consumers need protection against unscrupulous internet service providers.
Net neutrality, says the FCC, would guarantee consumer access to legal websites.
Let’s take the arguments one at a time and in order. At present, there are no regulations in place that protect consumers from discrimination. Lots of times, internet service providers take it upon themselves to block traffic they find offensive.
The Omega Letter has been blocked at one time or another from practically every ISP out there. We get emails on at least a weekly basis from OL members complaining that they haven’t been receiving their daily briefing by email.
Some ISP’s automatically redirect the Omega Letter to the junk email or spam folders, but that is more often a case of word filtering programs than it is censorship. But there are some ISP’s that have actively engaged in censorship, bouncing OL’s because they don’t like some of the content.
Google does it all the time. Google’s news aggregator once crawled the Omega Letter as a news site. It was removed later because of its overtly Christian content.
It is censorship, but it isn’t government censorship. There’s a difference.
Google is a private corporation. If its censorship practices offend enough people, a new ‘Google’ will emerge. ISP’s are private corporations. OL members have reported that after complaining to their ISP about censoring their OL, delivery was resumed. Others switched ISPs.
You can choose a more friendly search engines or Internet Service Providers but you can’t choose a more friendly government.
“We must take action to protect consumers against price hikes and closed access to the Internet—and our proposed framework is designed to do just that: to guard against these risks while recognizing the legitimate needs and interests of broadband providers,” FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski said in a blog post this month.
Notice the FCC’s heavy emphasis on legal in its protection package. In order for the FCC to guarantee access to a legal website, somebody has to define what a “legal website” would be.
At present, the definition of a ‘legal’ website is problematic. Because the current definition of a legal website is ‘a website’. There can’t be ‘legal’ websites until somebody comes up with an enforceable definition of an illegal website.
It’s pretty obvious that there is no such thing as an illegal website at the moment. If there was, then I wouldn’t be able to access Wikileaks. Nobody has done as much damage to the United States foreign policy as has Wikileaks and its founder, Julian Assange.
The US government has raged at every level, threatening to seize and confiscate, punish and incarcerate, with much thunder and lightning, very, very frightening, but ultimately impotent.
In everything accomplished against Assange so far, the Swedish rape charges, the British incarceration, canceling his bank and merchant accounts and hacking the Wikileaks website, the government has reacted like a petty dictatorship bent on revenge rather than a great nation seeking justice.
If ever there should be an “illegal” website, it should be Wikileaks. Shouldn’t it? Or so goes the FCC’s latest argument. Except that the FCC couldn’t regulate Wikileaks or prosecute Julian Assange if it was granted all the authority it sought.
It could only regulate you.
The peer-to-peer file sharing sites like ISOhunt have been under legal attack from special interest groups like the one that represents the music industry. Consequently, access to ISOhunt is limited or blocked to computers located in the US.
Computers in Canada have unlimited access to the same site.
Conversely, Canadians who attempt to access TV streaming websites such as hulu.com or US network sites like CBS to try and watch the latest NCIS episode get a blank screen and an explanation that they are attempting to access the content from a location outside the United States.
The FCC can’t “regulate” the internet. It can only censor your part of it. And THAT’s the idea.
There is a sense of desperation to the FCC effort that is troubling. The internet isn’t broken and it doesn’t need fixing. And even if it was broken, the government can’t fix it, as we’ve already seen.
Or they’d have ‘fixed’ Wikileaks long before it ‘fixed’ them.
Industry analysts and broadband companies, ISPs and major internet corporations are united in their opposition to net neutrality rules, arguing among other things, that the regulations would inhibit capital investment, deter innovation, raise operating costs, and increase consumer prices.
Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs. Yet they endeavor to persevere.
In April, a Federal Appeals Court ruled that the FCC didn’t have the legal authority to regulate the internet or impose net neutrality rules without specific authorization from Congress.
The FCC appealed, saying it had Congressional authority through existing legislation from the 1950’s.
In a rare moment of bipartisanship, three hundred members of Congress including eighty-six Democrats sent a letter to the FCC asking it to follow the law and leave internet regulation to the Congress.
Through the summer, it seemed that the FCC might defer to Congress. Until Henry Waxman submitted a draft bill granting that authority to the FCC. It failed to pass, ending legitimate Congressional efforts to regulate the internet.
Despite the court ruling that it lacks the authority, and despite the bipartisan Congressional opposition to granting it the authority, the FCC is prepared to impose net neutrality anyway, using the same method used 100 years ago to create the Federal Reserve.
Wait until Christmas Eve and hope that enough people aren’t watching to stop you.
While the FCC is planning to seize control of the internet by fiat, there is a similarly disturbing report by the Washington Post detailing the existence of a developing domestic spying network created by the federal state security services.
“Federal state security services” – who would have ever thought those words would describe a part of the United States government? The report says the government uses the FBI, local police, state police and military criminal investigators to collect and store information on its citizens.
The government’s goal is to have every state and local law enforcement agency in the country feed information to Washington to buttress the work of the FBI, noted the paper.
According to the report, the network includes 4,058 federal, state and local organizations, each with its own counter-terrorism responsibilities and jurisdictions.
When one considers that the United States is at war, one could argue that the government needs a domestic spy network like the one it is developing and that this is a good thing. Attorney General Eric Holder said as much during an ABC News interview.
“It is one of the things that keeps me up at night,” Holder said. “You didn’t worry about this even two years ago — about individuals, about Americans, to the extent that we now do. And — that is of — of great concern.”
“The threat has changed from simply worrying about foreigners coming here, to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born,” he said.
“For whatever reason.” THIS is what keeps me up at night. The reason is because they are Islamic converts. “Radicalized” is not just a code word, it is meaningless as used.
It means, “fundamental, extreme, drastic” but when married to the phrase “for whatever reason” it applies as equally to a Baptist preacher as it does a suicide bomber.
Having studiously avoided any overt mention of what ‘radicalized’ these guys in the first place, Holder then turns his attention to the real culprit. Get ready for it. . .
“The ability to go into your basement, turn on your computer, find a site that has this kind of hatred spewed … they have an ability to take somebody who is perhaps just interested, perhaps just on the edge, and take them over to the other side.” he said.
The internet is used by radicals (for whatever reason) to radicalize people who are perhaps ‘just interested’ implying, of course, that without the internet making that hatred available, the guy would still be a regular Joe.
Sigh. What’s a 21st century kind of guy like Holder to do? He can’t help it. He has to do his job.
“I have to have all those tools available to me to try to keep the American people safe, and to do the job that I’m supposed to do as a 21st century attorney general.”
Net neutrality. It is a lot like the super domestic spy operation. It sounds like a good idea if you say it fast and move on to another topic.
Which is why the FCC plans to pass it on Christmas Eve.
What is net neutrality? There are but a few times where Scripture repeats itself and I’ve found it profitable to pay attention when God repeats Himself.
“There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.” (Proverbs 14:12, 16:25)
It certainly applies here.