November 30th Could Be The Day the Government Seizes Control of the Internet By Seton Motley
November 30th, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) could potentially engage in one of the largest federal power grabs we have ever seen.
After two years of this Presidential Administration and this Congress, that is saying an awful lot about an awful lot.
And what’s worse, the FCC would be doing it without Congress weighing in. At the FCC’s November meeting – note the coincidental date of choice, AFTER the impending election – three unelected bureaucrats (of five) could simply vote themselves rulers of 1/6th of our entire economy – the information and technology sector.
Meaning the Internet that you currently enjoy – that has been a marvel of economic and information innovation and success – will be subject to vast new governmental regulations. You didn’t elect these people – but they are on the verge of electing themselves Internet overlords.
And we are on the verge of having this new world – the all-encompassing future of First Amendment free speech in America – swallowed up by three unelected D.C. bureaucrats and their Commission.
This is one of the most important battles ever waged in Washington – and precious little is known about it outside the Beltway.
What we are talking about is Internet reclassification. What that means is the FCC – which by its own admission doesn’t have authority over the Web – would just vote itself said authority. By reclassifying the Internet – so that it would be subject to the same rules as landline telephones.
The FCC has no power over the Internet because the FCC doesn’t have power over anything until Congress writes a law saying they do. And Congress has never done this for the FCC with the Internet.
It’s not just me saying this. 299 members of Congress have said so – a large bipartisan majority. More than 150 organizations, state legislators and bloggers have said so. So have seventeen minority groups – that are usually almost always in Democrat lockstep.
So have many additional normally Democrat paragons, including several large unions: AFL-CIO, Communications Workers of America (CWA),International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW); several racial grievance groups: League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC), Minority Media and Telecom Council (MMTC), National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Urban League; and an anti-free market environmentalist group: the Sierra Club.
So too has the unanimous D.C. Circuit Court – led by a Democrat Bill Clinton-appointee – ruling in April in the Comcast-BitTorrent case that the FCC doesn’t have the authority to regulate the Internet.
Most importantly, FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski has himself said so. In an interview last week with the Washington Post, the Chairman readily acknowledged “(W)e have a Communications Act that wasn’t written for broadband.”
Mr. Motley lays out the possible intention of the FCC to seize government control of the internet, thus rendering it no longer a source of free information. By free information I mean access to any website (other than those prohibited by law such as child pornography sites). China regulates what its citizens can and cannot view, as does Iran. It seems we may be headed toward that type of regulation as well.
The government already wrote itself the authority to shut down the internet in an emergency, even after chastising Iran for doing the very same thing during the civil unrest following the election that put Ajmadinejad back in power. So the Obama administration, in another example of “Do as I say, not as I do” condemned Ajmadinejad for seizing control of the internet and less than two years later he has given himself the same authority.
Cass Sunstein, President Obama’s choice to head the Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs, has said “a system of limited individual choice with respect to communications is not necessarily in the interest of citizenship and self-government, and efforts to reduce the resulting problems ought not to be rejected in freedom’s name.” In other words, he’s saying the government should definitely control information access and freedom shouldn’t be allowed to get in the way. The FCC wants to seize control over the internet without the approval of Congress, which technically should be illegal in itself. A Federal Court has already said the FCC does not have the authority to regulate the internet but the FCC is going to ignore the court and simply rewrite their own rules, bypassing Congress and telling the judge to stick it.
Things like this should scare even liberals and progressives, who will also be effected by this action. Liberals and progressives, I ask you to simply think about it – do you want the government telling you what internet sites you can visit? If and when the government changes over to a Republican majority and/or a Republican President, do you want the Republicans telling you what internet sites you can view? In many ways, it’s the same as the Fairness Doctrine. The left wants to make radio airwaves “fair” by imposing the Fairness Doctrine, which would force conservative radio stations to air liberal shows as well, even though liberal radio continues to fail nationwide. I wonder, if the situation was reversed and liberal radio was highly successful while conservative radio was failing, would liberals insist that conservatives be given equal airtime?
We need less government control over our daily lives, not more. The FCC must not be allowed to bypass Congress and seize unprecedented power. If this is allowed to happen, when does it stop?