Friday, May 16, 2014

FCC Votes to End the 'Electric Communism' of Net Neutrality

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- In a devastating ruling Friday for proponents of “net neutrality,” the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved a set of rules that pave the way for “paid priority fast lanes,” despite protests and national dissent. The proposal, spearheaded by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, passed by a three-to-two majority within the commission. Opponents of the measure described the decision as alarming “for anyone who treasures a free and open Internet.” Those who support the proposal, such as former Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) -- once Ranking Member on the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee -- called the idea of equal access and open speech on the Internet an affront to civil liberties and free-market economies, coining the talking point “Electric Communism.”

“There’s nothing free about allowing a government agency to regulate a business,” Hutchinson said. “Where are the individual’s rights when every click of the mouse is overseen or approved by the federal government? This measure intends to rid Americans of the onerous regulations adopted by the FCC, which destroy the ‘hands off’ approach that has allowed the Internet to grow and flourish.”

Net neutrality is a principle that advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, types of integrated equipment and the modes of communication utilized by Internet users. In a net neutral model, all users with access to the Web essentially determine for themselves which content they can view or filter out. As it currently stands, the Internet operating model is mostly neutral. However, with today’s ruling, any regulations ensuring equal access to all users and creators could effectively end.

According to conservative lawmakers who support the end of net neutrality, consumers should find more benefits than pitfalls.

“When Twitter begins charging 15 cents a tweet, or when YouTube bills a dollar a film, all those annoying ads on the pages go away. That sort of marketing clutter won’t be necessary anymore,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “Plus, it will be a lot easier to enforce parental controls on the Web. If you don’t want your teen accessing the kind of smut peddled by dangerous radicals like Huffington Post or NPR or anything ending in .org, then you’ll no longer have to program complicated filters; without a credit card, there’s no way your child would be able to enter the sites.”

Google too should begin charging, according to Inhofe, to ensure the free exchange of information.

“Paying for preferred search results would speed up performance, deliver more meaningful data and weed out questionable sites lacking credibility, all while protecting our youth,” Inhofe continued. “As a test, I conducted a Google Image search yesterday using a random series of innocuous words -- a few of them were, if I recall, ‘wet, fetish, bears, tranny, bondage, one cup, clown penis, diaper’ -- and you wouldn’t believe what Google returned. I endured a six-hour ordeal, poring over the aberrant pictures Google had stored in its servers. No one should have to spend that much time wading through a cesspool of deviant porn to get meaningful search results.”

If the FCC has its way, high-speed broadband providers like Comcast and Verizon could “reasonably” manage their networks without interference, which opponents to the ruling say will result in ISPs charging consumers based on levels of Internet usage. Jason Rosenbaum of BoldProgressives told reporters, [WARNING: Verizon Internet Services could not retrieve this content]

The impact could not only lead to increasingly expensive, tiered pricing structures for consumers, but could allow big players such as Google and Amazon priority access to delivering their websites to users instantly, while independent publishers of blogs, newspapers and small business sites could stagnate far behind. In many ways, critics say, this could prevent the rise of the next YouTube or Boing Boing by helping to create monopolies. But the rules stifle more than innovation. Supporters of a “public Internet” argue that corporations will have the power to censor content they disagree with, thereby ending free speech on [WARNING: Verizon Internet Services could not retrieve this content]

Timothy Karr of Fress Press’ “Save the Internet” campaign made an interesting observation. He said, [WARNING: Verizon Internet Services could not retrieve this content]

Michael Copps of Common Cause, who once served as FCC chairman and now advises the group, leveled the harshest criticism in a public statement issued by his advocacy group [WARNING: Verizon Internet Services could not retrieve this content]

The most disappointing aspect of the FCC’s ruling is that Democrats and Obama appointees voted in favor of Wheeler’s proposal, breaking the president’s pledge to uphold net neutrality.

Experts anticipate legal challenges to the < >

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