How Net Neutrality Came to Pass

By Americans for Tax Reform,

Net Neutrality has long been deemed a solution in search of a problem; an unnecessary policy move designed solely to grab regulatory hold of the Internet. Nevertheless, yesterday a partisan 3-2 vote by the Federal Communications Commission established these Internet regulations in law.  With the vote came attacks from left-wing groups who have long pushed for an Internet takeover. Most notably, the group Free Press claimed the “fake” Net Neutrality rules do not go far enough. ATR has highlighted the (dare I say) neo-Marxists at Free Press many times before (see 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7). However, a story by John Fund in yesterday’s Wall Street Journal paints a clear picture of who they are, who funds them, their connections with the current FCC, and how they marketed and manufactured unwarranted Internet regulations into law. Most importantly, it sheds light on why they think these rules are too weak by showing what it is they ultimately want. Excerpts from the story are below, but the entire piece is certainly worth a read here.

“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.”

… 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.”

Considering how openly activist the Berkman Center has been on these issues, it was an odd decision for the FCC to delegate its broadband research to this outfit. Unless, of course, the FCC already knew the answer it wanted to get.

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  • Notworking

    I applaud the FCC for taking on these people. I have NetFlix and I want to be able to get all my movies all the time without some guy somewhere tellling me I can’t. With the help from the FCC I will be able to rest assured that my movies will stream to me without delay.
    What could be more important?
    I just wish NetFlix had a lower rate for poor people, as the $7.99 per month is killing me.
    I am thinking I could just sell some food stamps or sell some beer I get with my foodstamp money and then I can watch movies all day and all night.

  • Bob Clark

    The communication industry is very highly competitive with the introduction of wireless internet. One of the most important original functions of the FCC was to regulate the phone monopoly of AT&T. But this function died off long ago, and so the FCC is now a bureaucracy seeking relevance (bureaucracies don’t die easy especially under Bama). The FCC itself should have died off long ago itself just as the railroad regulatory body largely did.

    Net neutrality itself will stifle competition and innovation as businesses eager to add the practical capacity to enlarge the provision of broadband internet for the likes of say Netflix users will have reduced incentive to do so. Price controls engendered by FCC’s regulation of the net, like other price controls, limits supply.

    In fact, regulation itself eventually stymies innovation like that of Netflix as the industry regulated eventually must be protected by new entrants with new technologies.

    As for folks who like their Netflix subsidized, I don’t think I should have to pay for their leisure activities anymore than they should have to pay for say my hunting equipment. And if it’s price controls for limiting price these folks desire, I guess they don’t mind waiting in long lines for their goods ala one term Carter’s gasoline rationing scheme.

    • Notworking

      Hunting is bad as animals die. I hope I don’t have to subsidize this evil sport.
      I am a vegan except when I get the urge to hit Mickey D’s for a big one. With the fools we have in government now I know you will be paying for my movies, which suits me just fine. I contribute nothing to society – and I get all the benefits.
      What a country!

  • Observer

    You folks don’t understand. This “regulation” is simply on wired broadband, which will be obsolete within a decade.

    Wireless is now completely in the hands of providers, and if they don’t like what website you’re looking at or whose videos you’re watching (because Comcast now owns NBC and is a content creator competing with Netflix), they can throttle your bandwidth at will and not even tell you they’re doing it.

    Phone companies don’t cut out calls because you’re talking to a drinking buddy and not your mother, so why should they be able to do it with the Internet?

    In Germany, when you order a drink, they list the volume on the menu and then bring you a cup with a line on it to prove you’re getting how much you asked for. I look forward to Portland’s own Stephouse Networks to expand to SE so I can sign right up for a specific amount of bandwidth I know I’ll be getting.

    Otherwise, I hope you conservatives can realize how much we’re all getting screwed by this capitulation to the telecom industry, who helped a previous administration wiretap American civilians without warrants.

  • Rupert in Springfield

    Net Neut is often phrased as a solution in search of a problem but I think we all know what is going on here.

    Basically the FCC has been told repeatedly they do not have the power to do this. What they are attempting to do is set precedent. In other words they are using the strategy that it is easier to ask forgiveness than to beg permission.

    THere is hardly a ballyhoo going on about people being throttled down if they look at an NPR website versus Fox News and no one really cares about this problem even if it existed. The whole point is to expand regulatory power by fiat.

    This is how Obama has operated throughout his presidency and this situation is no different.

    What will be hilarious will be to hear the crowing and crying from the now quiescent left when a Republican president takes over. Yes they were quite concerned when the slightest infraction of anyones rights occurred under Bush, and now under Obama any atrocity is ok. We all remember the fold on GITMO. Rest assured the absurd sanctimony will start again, possibly on the very issue of regulating the internet should Obama not win re-election in 2012.

    Yes, net neut is bad – however it is another opportunity to laugh at a liberal whenever the topic of peoples rights comes up. Just laugh at em, thats what I do.

    • Valid

      For a political movement that is as homophobic as the conservative movement is, I find it shokcing how many of you appear to be really really eager to bend over and grab your ankles whenever a corporation tells you to.

      I can understand why ATR opposes Net Neutrality… they are being heavily subsidized by the telecom industry to shill for them.

      The point of Net Neutrality is to protect the rights of American taxpayers who financed the development of the internet to continue accessing that medium by corporate monopolies that control the various wired and non-wired “pipelines” for bandwidth.

      The fact that the FCC is not protecting wireless mediums is a disaster for American citizens who use the internet, particularly when you consider that the airwaves belong to We the People, and they would be worth trillions to the American public if our government were not giving them away, basically for free, to corporate monopolies.

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