On February 26th the Federal Communications Commission passed by a 3-2 vote unprecedented net neutrality regulation which dramatically redefines the way the internet is regulated. The internet would now be treated like public utility instead of the open commerce terrain that it currently is. Using Title II of the 1934 Communications Act, the net neutrality plan poses strict rules on business operations of internet service providers. The plan, which was introduced by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, was passed on party lines with the five –person Commission’s two Republicans opposing it. The vote came about after the FCC received over four million public comments asking for the agency to make a greater commitment to internet neutrality standards.
The new net rules prohibit the service providers from establishing “fast lanes” for content delivery, which charge companies higher fees for faster access to websites. The regulation also prohibits the deliberate slowing of content delivery. Proponents of net neutrality maintain that government regulation of the internet would ensure “an open internet” with equal access for all. Opponents of the net neutrality measure view it as excessive government overreach which will stifle innovation. FCC Chairman Wheeler has also been accused of bowing to pressure from President Barack Obama who had actively pushed the FCC to improve its neutrality standards. Moreover, the White House lobbying efforts were propelled by $196 million it received from well-known liberal institutions including philanthropist George Soros’s Open Society Foundation and the Ford Foundation, which describes itself as the second largest private foundation in the U.S. The two foundations also have White House connections.John Podesta, who previously led Ford Foundation’s Center for American Progress, served as both an advisor to Barack Obama and Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton. Mr.Podesta is widely rumored to be tapped to run Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Republicans have also received criticism for their failure to deliver their own net neutrality proposal. Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune, (Republican- South Dakota) dismisses these claims by saying “One way or another, I am committed to moving a legislative solution, preferably bipartisan, to stop monopoly-era phone regulations that harm Internet consumers and innovation.”
The net neutrality plan introduced by Chairman Wheeler is yet another example of government, and for that matter, “Office of the President” overreach. There is absolutely no need for the government to gain complete control of the internet and regulate it like a gas company. The industry should be self-regulating. For it is the industry that would know how to ensure that people are not interfering with content delivery speed. The idea of highly regulating the internet beyond operational enhancements is both complicated from an organizational framework, and expensive. More importantly, it also changes the concept of the internet. If the government starts excessively regulating the internet, it will squash completion and creativity and limit freedom of expression. Furthermore, increased government regulation opens the door to the government’s monitoring individuals and organizations who do not fit their narrative, such as the Department of Justice spying on Fox Reporter James Rosen and his parents.
The Republicans need to introduce an alternative to the net neutrality. The communications industries are perfectly capable of self-regulating. History has shown that excessive government regulation interferes with an industry’s ability to develop innovative products and services. Furthermore, additional regulation always increases the cost of delivery. We need to fight to keep the internet the open communications forum that it currently is. We need to protect individuals and organizations from greater government monitoring. We don’t want the government spying on us.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com