The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been acting with a heavy hand on the matter of so called “net neutrality” to date, but it at least seemed to have the imprimatur of serving one master… the president. Not so, at least according to the findings of Judicial Watch, as reported by the Washington Examiner. They apparently were working with an independent group determined to ensure Uncle Sam kept a far less than invisible hand on the web.
Documents made public yesterday by Judicial Watch describe extensive collusion by Federal Communications Commission officials with a left-wing advocacy group in a campaign to expand government regulation of the Internet.
The documents, obtained by Judicial Watch in a December 2010 Freedom of Information Act request, were created after Democrat appointees solidified their 3-2 control of the agency in March 2009…
The coordination between FCC officials and Free Press, the advocacy group, supported a proposal for the agency to regulate access to the Internet as if it were a public utility, in the interest of ensuring “Net Neutrality.”
The criticism of not only the activist in question, but this new power sought by the FCC, notes that such regulation will allow the federal government to not merely control bandwidth, but content. Some may see this as harmless, couching the argument in issues of free speech. But continuing patterns in the executive branch have demonstrated another concern:
This is a pathway for Washington to pick winners and losers in the race to deliver content on the web. And the Free Press group is looking to do just that.
From the beginning I found myself on the fence regarding net neutrality, and I have engaged in productive debates with folks on both sides. There is a natural impetus for lovers of free speech to make sure that some anonymous “fat cats” aren’t deciding to send you to Company A when the the less well funded Company B might be offering a better deal, but are unable to afford the higher bandwidth costs.
But in the end, even more important than saving an extra sixteen cents on your DVD of the latest Pirates of the Caribbean flick (which is much better than the critics’ reviews, by the way) the public needs to be the master of web content delivery. And yes, even for those of you who don’t believe in the free market, it remains a far more scary proposition to allow whoever currently holds the White House to decide that than the companies who provide the bandwidth.
Why? Because those “fat cats” are absolutely working from an ulterior motive. And it’s profit. What the public is willing to pay for, the public will receive. Washington is hindered by no such restrictions and can pick and choose winners based on what suits their own ideological agenda.
I’ll take my chances with the capitalists, thanks.