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.