Net Neutrality Flashback

Net Neutrality Explained:

I have an older post with Professor Hazlett explaining the issue more in-depth, HERE

I recently watched a classic movie… 1984. And language is used as a weapon of propaganda. For instance, here are some famous quotes:

NATIONAL REVIEW LINKED IN PIC

  • “War is Peace; Freedom is Slavery; Ignorance is Strength” | the three slogans of the English Socialist Party (“INGSOC” for short) of Oceania.

Here, you see the same language misuse used to make a point (really, a non-point):

On Monday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told Fox & Friends that net neutrality protesters have targeted his home and his children. One neighbor of Pai’s tweeted that signs protesters brandished named Pai’s children; others accused him of “murdering DEMOCRACY in cold blood,” still others asked how his children could look him in the eye. (DAILY WIRE – emphasis added)

This isn’t “democracy”! The public didn’t vote on it. It wasn’t even “passed” per our Republic… those representatives we voted into office never voted on it.

…The FCC has voted 3-2 along political lines to extend the government’s reach and regulate the internet via net neutrality.

The vote to institute net neutrality rules marks the first time the government has stepped into the world of internet regulation. Proponent’s of the net neutrality rules say that the move allows the government to stop companies from controlling too much of the internet, while opponents view it as a scary example of government control and an impediment of private business.

[….]

“The FCC is not Congress. We cannot make laws,” said Republican Commission Robert McDowell, describing Tuesday as “one of the darkest days in FCC history.” He also suggested that new rules may be in for a court battle….

(THE BLAZE)

Up is Down in la-la-land.

Here is part of John Fund’s article via the ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER:

The Federal Communications Commission’s new “net neutrality” rules, passed on a partisan 3-2 vote Tuesday, Dec. 21, represent a huge win for a slick lobbying campaign run by liberal activist groups and foundations. The losers are likely to be consumers who will see innovation and investment chilled by regulations that treat the Internet like a public utility.

There’s little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.

The FCC has approved rules that would give the federal government authority to regulate Internet traffic and prevent broadband providers from selectively blocking web traffic. WSJ’s Amy Schatz explains what the new rules really mean.

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn’t have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he’s had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

The net neutrality vision for government regulation of the Internet began with the work of Robert McChesney, a University of Illinois communications professor who founded the liberal lobby Free Press in 2002. Mr. McChesney’s agenda? “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies,” he told the website SocialistProject in 2009. “But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

A year earlier, Mr. McChesney wrote in the Marxist journal Monthly Review that “any serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself.” Mr. McChesney told me in an interview that some of his comments have been “taken out of context.” He acknowledged that he is a socialist and said he was “hesitant to say I’m not a Marxist.”

For a man with such radical views, Mr. McChesney and his Free Press group have had astonishing influence. Mr. Genachowski’s press secretary at the FCC, Jen Howard, used to handle media relations at Free Press. The FCC’s chief diversity officer, Mark Lloyd, co-authored a Free Press report calling for regulation of political talk radio.

Free Press has been funded by a network of liberal foundations that helped the lobby invent the purported problem that net neutrality is supposed to solve. They then fashioned a political strategy similar to the one employed by activists behind the political speech restrictions of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign-finance reform bill. The methods of that earlier campaign were discussed in 2004 by Sean Treglia, a former program officer for the Pew Charitable Trusts, during a talk at the University of Southern California. Far from being the efforts of genuine grass-roots activists, Mr. Treglia noted, the campaign-finance reform lobby was controlled and funded by foundations like Pew.

“The idea was to create an impression that a mass movement was afoot,” he told his audience. He noted that “If Congress thought this was a Pew effort, it’d be worthless.” A study by the Political Money Line, a nonpartisan website dealing with issues of campaign funding, found that of the $140 million spent to directly promote campaign-finance reform in the last decade, $123 million came from eight liberal foundations.

After McCain-Feingold passed, several of the foundations involved in the effort began shifting their attention to “media reform”—a movement to impose government controls on Internet companies somewhat related to the long-defunct “Fairness Doctrine” that used to regulate TV and radio companies. In a 2005 interview with the progressive website Buzzflash, Mr. McChesney said that campaign-finance reform advocate Josh Silver approached him and “said let’s get to work on getting popular involvement in media policy making.” Together the two founded Free Press.

Free Press and allied groups such as MoveOn.org quickly got funding. Of the eight major foundations that provided the vast bulk of money for campaign-finance reform, six became major funders of the media-reform movement. (They are the Pew Charitable Trusts, Bill Moyers’s Schumann Center for Media and Democracy, the Joyce Foundation, George Soros’s Open Society Institute, the Ford Foundation, and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.) Free Press today has 40 staffers and an annual budget of $4 million.

These wealthy funders pay for more than publicity and conferences. In 2009, Free Press commissioned a poll, released by the Harmony Institute, on net neutrality. Harmony reported that “more than 50% of the public argued that, as a private resource, the Internet should not be regulated by the federal government.” The poll went on to say that since “currently the public likes the way the Internet works . . . messaging should target supporters by asking them to act vigilantly” to prevent a “centrally controlled Internet.”

To that end, Free Press and other groups helped manufacture “research” on net neutrality. In 2009, for example, the FCC commissioned Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society to conduct an “independent review of existing information” for the agency in order to “lay the foundation for enlightened, data-driven decision making.”…..

(read the rest)


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WIRED MAGAZINE had a great article back in 2015… here are three of the many points it makes:

….”That Won’t Work”

Will the new order affect the woman’s ability to Skype with her son in Turkey? No. Will it affect her broadband bill? Yes.

Unfortunately, regulating net neutrality under Title II will almost certainly raise your broadband bill. A range of state and local fees apply only to common-carrier telecommunications services—which is what the FCC just made your broadband internet service.

Wheeler’s approach creates a host of other problems. Most important, it allows the FCC to regulate not just your (hated) broadband provider, but also your favorite internet services.

You were sold a bill of goods when activists told you net neutrality was all about protecting “the next Facebook” from evil ISPs. Think about it: If you’re “the next Facebook,” who do you think is more worried about you? Your ISP, or Facebook itself? If the problem is between Facebook and its potential challengers, hamstringing ISPs is an awfully roundabout way of dealing with it. Especially because we already have a regulatory apparatus to deal with issues related to competition: antitrust laws.

But consider this irony: Now that ISPs are regulated under Title II as common carriers, the Federal Trade Commission can’t enforce its consumer protection laws against them anymore.

That doesn’t mean there won’t be antitrust enforcement, but we did just hobble our most significant and experienced consumer protection authority. That seems like a mistake if we’re enacting rules that purport to protect consumers.

“To Solve a Problem That Doesn’t Exist”

One would think that after a decade of debate there would be a strong economic case for net neutrality. But there isn’t. According to Commissioner O’Rielly—one of the few people who’s actually read the order—“[t]here is not a shred of evidence [in the order] that any aspect of this structure is necessary.” The record leading up to last week’s vote contained evidence of only five instances in the history of the internet where ISPs may have thwarted content providers’ access to end-users, none of which required heavy-handed net neutrality rules to address.

The world in which internet innovators have to ask permission to operate is imaginary. Or it was, until Wheeler regulated it into existence.

The new catch-all provision may well apply to internet companies that now think they’re not subject to the rules. Title II (which, recall, is the basis for the catch-all) applies to all “telecommunications services”—not just ISPs. Now, every time an internet service might be deemed to transmit a communication (think WhatsApp, Snapchat, Twitter…), it either has to take its chances or ask the FCC in advance to advise it on its likely regulatory treatment.

That’s right—this new regime, which credits itself with preserving “permissionless innovation,” just put a bullet in its head. It puts innovators on notice, and ensures that the FCC has the authority (if it holds up in court) to enforce its vague rule against whatever it finds objectionable.

And no matter how many times this Chairman tells you that for now the rules won’t apply to internet service X, he can’t guarantee that they won’t next year (or next month). And he certainly can’t make that guarantee for the FCC’s next chairman.

One of life’s unfortunate certainties, as predictable as death and taxes, is this: regulators regulate. It would be crazy to think the FCC adopted these rules and will just to let them lie fallow if tomorrow’s internet boogeyman is a non-ISP company.

Even staunch net neutrality supporters like EFF worry about the breadth of the FCC’s new “general conduct” standard. Couple that with language that invites complaints and class action lawsuits, and suddenly a regulation claimed to ensure “just and reasonable” conduct becomes a rent-seeking free-for-all.

But surely ISPs have it in for Netflix, right? Actually, Comcast is the only ISP (out of the literally thousands that are now regulated under Title II) that competes with Netflix. And the evidence shows that the problems allegedly arising from that competition were caused by Netflix, not Comcast. Did we really just enact 300 pages of legally questionable, enormously costly, transformative rules just to help Netflix in a trivial commercial spat?

“Using Legal Authority the FCC Doesn’t Have”

For last week’s “victory” to stand, the FCC must win in court on all (or nearly all) of a host of difficult legal questions.

Most obviously, the rules will be challenged as “arbitrary and capricious” under Supreme Court precedent that makes clear that agencies may not adopt rules that “run[] counter to the evidence before the agency,” or are simply implausible.

Last year, the Supreme Court took the EPA to task for “tailoring” provisions from the Environmental Protection Act to rewrite an outdated statute. The FCC’s effort to do the same thing with Title II will likely fall prey to the same result……

Read the five more critiques of Net Neutrality at THE DAILY WIRE:

1. The instances of ISPs slowing down or blocking data to favor certain sites over others are few and far between. Ian Tuttle notes at National Review that when the FCC first attempted net neutrality regulations in 2010, they were only able to “cite just four examples of anticompetitive behavior, all relatively minor.” Cell phone networks, which are not subject to net neutrality-esque regulations, don’t engage in such anticompetitive behavior.

There’s a reason for this: such behavior doesn’t cut it in a free market. As Ben Shapiro wrote in 2014, “Consumers would dump those ISPs in favor of others” if those ISPs slowed down or blocked data as favoritism toward certain sites.

“Competition ensures that companies do not have the leverage to discriminate against particular websites,” Shapiro added.

There has never been an urgent need for net neutrality regulations.

[…..]

6. It’s crony capitalism in favor of web giants like Facebook and Google. That’s why they support net neutrality, since it targets their competitors.


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