Feds look to adopt 322 pages of fresh taxes, regulations
The Internet as it now exists with nominal government bureaucratic oversight has allowed the creation of billion-dollar companies like Google and Facebook and lets consumers even in remote parts of the landscape shop, watch videos and connect with others more or less instantly.
Just about anyone can set up a website, and it’s one of the few places in America where the sky’s the limit. Literally.
That, however, apparently is not good enough for President Obama, since the Federal Communications Commission is planning to adopt some 322 pages of secret rules to govern Web services.
L. Gordon Crovitz at the Wall Street Journal said the so-called “net neutrality” campaign could be called “Obamacare for the Internet,” but that would be “unfair to Obamacare.”
The Internet rules, which have been kept secret, are scheduled to face a vote by the Federal Communications Commission Thursday. They force massive regulation on the huge Web industry, he said.
Officials say they are based on a 1934 utility regulating plan, and unless Congress or the courts block the rules, “it will be the end of the Internet as we know it,” Crovitz wrote.
As late as Monday, two of the five FCC commissioners were asking for the rules to be delayed and the public given an opportunity to see and comment on them. Perhaps the requests are at least partly in the hope that the board will get it right this time, unlike earlier instances in which plans have been adopted only to the thrown out by the courts.
On Tuesday, the Hill reported one of the three Democrats on the five-member FEC commission was so unhappy she was asking for changes.
The changes from Mignon Clyburn would leave in place the central and most controversial component of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s rules, the Hill said, “the notion that broadband Internet service should be reclassified so that it can be treated as a ‘telecommunications’ service under Title II of the Communications Act, similar to utilities like phone lines.”
But Clyburn wants to “eliminate a new legal category of ‘broadband subscriber access services,’ which was created as an additional point of legal authority for the FCC to monitor the ways that companies hand off traffic on the back end of the Internet,” the report said.
Others were demanding that the FCC release a copy of the rules for the public to see. The commission now is not scheduled to release them until after it votes, not unlike then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s statement that Congress would have to adopt Obamacare so the people could find out what was in it.
USA Today reported Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, chairman of the House Oversight Committee, was questioning whether the FCC has been “independent, fair and transparent” in making the new rules.
His letter to the FCC noted the process “was conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review.”
The premise behind “net neutrality” is that the Web is a mess and large corporations are abusing consumers, manipulating their data, putting their Web needs behind those who pay more. The only solution, the thinking goes, is for the government to take control.
Supporters of the regulations are hard to find, but the far-left American Civil Liberties Union posted a list of the “abuses” it has found.
For example, it cited AT&T’s “jamming” of a rock star’s political protest, Comcast’s “throttling” of online file-sharing, work by Verizon to cut off a program containing what it considered “unsavory” content and others.
But even the ACLU site noted that AT&T said its decision was a mistake and it would work to fix it, Comcast’s fight continues in federal courts and Verizon reversed its censorship “after widespread public outrage.”
The solutions in each case included public pressure.
The organization said “net neutrality” is just applying age-old rules regarding common resources, like canal systems, railroads, public highways and telephone and telephone networks, to the Web.
But Ajit Pai and Lee Goodman, two of the FCC commissioners, wrote in Politico that the freedom that exists on the Internet right now “has given the American people unprecedented access to information and an amazing array of opportunities to speak, debate and connect with one another.”
The real reason for the proposed rules, they wrote, is the perception on the part of some that freedom is “a vacuum in need of government control.”
They warn it will start with regulation of rates for access.
“It will institutionalize innovation by permission – giving advisory opinions on prospective business plans or practices (and companies will ask before innovating for fear of what will happen if they don’t).”
Written by BOB UNRUH
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