FCC votes in Regs on 'Net Neutrality' – Consequences?

By SUA Staff

The Obama/Democrat Party “fundamental transformation of America” just visited another terrible blow on capitalism and further increased the size of government.

It also sets the stage for international controls few can fathom. Look soon for a new cabinet department, the DOI, Department of the Internet. George Soros, John Podesta, and the White House have won.

The repercussions of the new regulations created by the FCC, effectively taking control over the internet, passed on a party line vote of the Commissioners, 3-2 are stunning and unmeasurable at this time.

In an expected 3-2 party-line vote, the agency’s Democrat majority approved a plan by FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler that puts broadband providers in the same legal category as more highly regulated conventional telephone companies.

Wheeler has promised a modernized, light-touch regulatory approach that would exempt Internet service from many of the tougher provisions of that designation under Title 2 of the telecommunications law, particularly rate regulation. (LA Times)

The unintended consequences of this move will likely yield a whole host of negative results – but is that really unintentional? But we won’t know until we wade through all 322 pages. Sound familiar?

FCCNetNeutralityVote
Federal Communication Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, center, joins hands with Commissioners Mignon Clyburn, left, and Jessica Rosenworcel, before the start of their meeting in Washington, D.C., Thursday to vote on tough net neutrality regulations. (Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP)

The Chairman of the Commission and a supporter on the Commission said:

“The Internet is the most powerful and pervasive platform on the planet. It’s simply too important to be left without rules and without a referee on the field,” Wheeler said in voting for the proposal. “The Internet is simply too important to allow broadband providers to be the ones making the rules.

FCC member Jessica Rosenworcel, who voted for the regulations, said: “We cannot have a two-tiered Internet with fast lanes that speed the traffic of the privileged and leave the rest of us lagging behind.”

One of the two dissenting votes disagreed:

Ajit Pai, one of two Republicans on the FCC, said the new regulatory proposal abandoned 20 years of bipartisan consensus “to let the Internet grow free from utility-style regulation.”

“It seizes unilateral authority to regulate Internet conduct, to direct where Internet service providers make their investments and to determine what service plans will be available to the American public,” he said. (Read more at the LA Times.)

To those of us who work on the internet daily, many relying on it for their livelihood, we can see where this will go; all to fix something that was not broken. Market forces can get out of hand, and some regulation is necessary in some industries, but the internet is not just a “common carrier” of information – not by a long shot, it is not a utility.

In the Name of Consumer Protection

This is eerily similar to “pass the bill to see what’s in it” language that Nancy Pelosi told us about ObamaCare. Then, in a video posted by the LA Times about GOP concerns, Gene Kimmelman, President and CEO of Public knowledge stated in part in his response to concerns made by Rep. Greg Walden, R-OR:

“Sit back, and see what is put forward tomorrow…,” he may be a consumer advocate, but he is also all for the regulatory changes as he stated in his Senate testimony in January of this year. (While at the Department of Justice under Eric Holder, Kimmelman was referred to as Obama’s “Secret Weapon” on in the anti-trust division and was a Director at George Soros funded New America Foundation.)

Once again, we have to pass it so we can see what is in it. How would you like to be the CEO of a broadband provider who now has to see how his company’s future plans just changed unilaterally by bureaucrats? We see shades of the health care insurance industry, and health care provision issues all over again.

Gene Kimmelman testifying before Congress prior to the vote.
Gene Kimmelman testifying before Congress prior to the vote.

The internet is not just about downloading movies or songs, social networking, or blogging; and the free flow of ideas, innovation, creativity, and exploration, it is about commerce. Most of these attributes were not in any danger because the market self-selects and people vote with their wallets.

Unilateral Control

Those voting for the regulations claim it is about fairness – leveling the playing field. How level is level in the world of commerce and the free market?

Net_Neutrality_BennetIn our opinion, this effort was about control, not keeping something free, open, and fair.

Once again, liberals use crafty language to sway the unknowing and couch arguments in “safety,” and “fair” jargon, with the real purpose being to have government make decisions for you “stupid” masses, just ask Jonathan Gruber.

If it was about controlling broadband providers and keeping the internet neutral, why did it take 322 pages of regulations and why did they keep it hidden from the public?

We do not know, but many warned the FCC not to mess with the Web’s still-developing economic ecosystem and may be a tragic threat of our 1st Amendment rights.

However, the debate is not over but the regulations are now here, unilateral government control of the internet by a single agency without Congressional input. Yes it was created by our military, but ours, as in we-the-people’s.

International Control

Next it will mutate into international control if they have their way. Somehow, we see the United Nations creating yet another commission and gaining control many feared when the story that the Commerce Department tackles the contract with ICANN next year came out.

As was reported last March, the international question of control arose again as the Washington Post’s Craig Timberg wrote:

U.S. officials announced plans Friday to relinquish federal government control over the administration of the Internet, a move that pleased international critics but alarmed some business leaders and others who rely on the smooth functioning of the Web.

Pressure to let go of the final vestiges of U.S. authority over the system of Web addresses and domain names that organize the Internet has been building for more than a decade and was supercharged by the backlash last year to revelations about National Security Agency surveillance.

The change would end the long-running contract between the Commerce Department and the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a California-based nonprofit group. That contract is set to expire next year but could be extended if the transition plan is not complete.

“We look forward to ICANN convening stakeholders across the global Internet community to craft an appropriate transition plan,” Lawrence E. Strickling, assistant secretary of commerce for communications and information, said in a statement. (Read more here at the Washington Post.)

Then Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John D. Rockefeller IV (D-W.Va.) said: “…consistent with other efforts the U.S. and our allies are making to promote a free and open Internet, and to preserve and advance the current multi-stakeholder model of global Internet governance.” Thank you Senator, we all feel safer now.

There you go, those “safety” and “comfort” words again. Now that the FCC has voted, the slippery slope was just greased with 40 weight motor oil. Back in March, former Speaker-of-the-House, Newt Gingrich said: “This risks foreign dictatorships defining the internet.”

Recently, the new Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John Thune of South Dakota opined:

“…by claiming more authority over Internet access for net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission will undermine the ability of the U.S. to push back against international plots to control the Internet and censor content.

Countries like Russia already have made it clear that they want the International Telecommunications Union or another United Nations body to have more power over the Internet, Thune said.

“It seems like reclassifying broadband, as the administration is doing, is losing a valuable argument,” Thune said at his panel’s hearing on Internet governance. “How do you prevent ITU involvement when you’re pushing to reclassify the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act, and is everyone aware of that inherent contradiction?” (Read more at the National Journal.)

Trust in Government Agencies

How much trust do you have in our governmental agencies? How well have they run anything? Certainly politics will not be a concern.

Katherine Maher of Politico defended the idea of “It [Commerce and ICANN] intends to transition its coordinating role over the Internet’s domain name system—those web addresses you type into your browser—to the global Internet community” last March by saying:

It’s actually the opposite of what the critics claim: The Obama administration is trying to head off rising global pressure to give other countries, including China and Russia, more of a say in how the Internet is governed, not bow to it.

Her trust in the Commerce Department is a common problem, trust of a governmental agency that is at the whim of the current political tide has earned anything but. Ask yourself, who is the appointed Secretary of Commerce now and who will it be in the future? Who will be in charge of the FCC in the future?net-neutrality

If it is like the National Labor Safety Board that Obama tried to stack with cronies illegally, or ObamaCare that was shoved down our throats through the Department of Health and Human Services, be very afraid.

Maher continues:

“ICANN, [Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers] which was created primarily for the purpose of contracting to Commerce, is already a global body. Its headquarters are in California, but it has offices around the world and a governance model that includes representatives from 111 countries, international organizations and commercial and non-commercial stakeholders.”

“…there is no way Commerce will allow for a transition that doesn’t serve the public’s interest in a free and open Internet. The department controls the conditions, the timing and the ultimate approval of any new arrangement.”

If it is already international, why do the likes of China and Russia want more control? The simple answer is, they are actively seeking to reduce America to her knees, and Obama and his cronies are more than willing to “lead from behind” once again.

Say goodbye to your freedom on the internet, one already fraught with constant cyber-attacks, especially by the Chinese and Russians, and say hello to less privacy, higher bills, taxation, internet sales taxes, and limits on free speech.

How do you like all that flowery “comfort” jargon now? Free and open; fair? How about that doctor or health care plan you got to keep? Period! How about that “reset” with Russia? Is the internet the next Crimea?

How about that “targeting” issue? Do we really believe that a future administration would not “weaponize” the FCC like we all witnessed with the IRS? This will morph, of that we can be sure.

 

ObamaNet – FCC Hides Regs, WH Emails Prompt Hearing

Editor’s Note – The FCC commissioners are set to vote on new regulations that many are now calling “ObamaNet” on the “Net Neutrality” issue. But Republicans on the Commission want America to see what they are up against:

“We respectfully request that FCC leadership immediately release the 332-page Internet regulation plan publicly and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it,” Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly said in a statement Monday.

“Then, after the commission reviews the specific input it receives from the American public and makes any modifications to the plan as appropriate, we could proceed to a final vote.” (Read more at Daily Caller)

FCC-Chairman
Republican Commissioner Ajit Pai shows us the 322-page book that contain the regulations proposed.

This cannot be allowed to move forward like the ObamaCare legislation did. As Nancy Pelosi famously promoted that bill as “needing to pass the bill so we could see what is in it” just must not fly.

Once again the Obama administration is attempting to fundamentally transform America, this time through the FCC on the internet. Is this a brewing scandal du jours?

We think it is, possible White House chicanery on this effort has drawn the ire of Congress because of the possibility that the White House improperly influenced the commission:

Congressman Jason Chaffetz, the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, will chair a hearing Wednesday about whether the White House improperly influenced the independent agency and pressured its chairman, Tom Wheeler, to develop a net neutrality plan that mirrored recommendations President Barack Obama made last November.

Obama had called on the FCC to classify broadband as a public utility and adopt open internet rules that would ensure that “neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online.”

The congressional hearing was initiated after Chaffetz reviewed heavily redacted emails and other documents VICE News obtained from the FCC two weeks ago in response to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request; the emails show White House officials and Wheeler communicating about net neutrality.

VICE News sought comment from Chaffetz’s office about the email exchanges and shared the documents with him. (Read more here at Vice News, also here at B & C, Broadcast & Cable.)

In a curious twist, Twitter has come out in favor of the regulations:

“We need clear, enforceable, legally sustainable rules to ensure that the Internet remains open and continues to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers. This is the heart of Twitter,” wrote Will Carty, a Twitter public policy manager, in a company blog post Monday. (Read more at the WSJ.)

Once again, the administration is misleading America, with flowery “safety” words, and subterfuge. This is a complicated subject and America deserves to have an ope debate, or to be able to at least read it and comment on it.

Read our previous article on the subject for more background. You be the judge, read on:

FCC to Vote on Net Neutrality Rules on Thursday

By Bob Adelmann – The New American

On Thursday consumers will finally be able to see and read the FCC’s (Federal Communications Commission) planned new rules to regulate the Internet.

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler

Deliberately hidden from public view, the 332-page document is expected to be passed by the FTC, as demanded by President Obama last November when he told FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to adopt the “strongest possible rules” in regulating the Internet.

Leaks from the document were inevitable, and critics have slowly pieced together the latest attack on Internet freedom. Five times legislation has been offered in Congress to mandate “net neutrality,” and five times it has failed.

Twice courts have struck down previous efforts to regulate the Internet. This time, however, ignorance and momentum are likely to rule the day, and the Internet.

The main excuse for implementing the new invasions is the statists’ favorite complaint: Internet service providers “discriminate.” They discriminate by charging different rates and providing different services for their customers, based upon usage, content, the size of the servers providing the service, the complexity of the platforms connecting the data between providers and end users, the type and expense of the equipment used to facilitate that data flow, as well as the mode of communication.

This is awful. This can’t be allowed. Something must be done.

In other words, all automobiles, in the worldview of the Obamas and the Wheelers (and their facilitators seeking to benefit from less competition, such as Facebook, Google, and Netflix), ought to be beige in color, have identical horsepower, the same number of doors, and get the same gas mileage no matter how far or fast they may be driven.

After all, in their worldview, offering free market choices is a sin from which only government agencies such as the FCC can save us.

fcclogoReaders of the new rules will no doubt find phrases such as the following, which have appeared in previous attempts to rein in the Internet:

“Broadband service providers may only prioritize … based on the content, applications, or services … purchased by the end user, without charge for such prioritization.”

This will require Wheeler and his statists at the FCC to change the classification of the Internet from “information services” companies to “telecommunications companies” in order to inflict the much more onerous rules the agency applies to them.

In short, the new regs will turn the Internet into a bland, beige, highly regulated, inefficient, and costly utility.

Not only will Internet customers be charged more, through the levying of various fees and service charges, but many of them will resign from the Internet because of those increased costs, resulting in fewer choices.

Those remaining will begin to enjoy a service that is less innovative, with slower speeds and less content than would be the case, as entrepreneurs are now being treated as unnecessary impediments to neutrality.

Courtesy of Bloomberg - Screen Shot
Courtesy of Bloomberg – Screen Shot

As the authors of a backgrounder on the Internet for the Heritage Foundation noted, “Most of the practices identified by regulation supporters as activities that should be prohibited are in fact beneficial for consumers … efforts to regulate the internet would hurt the very consumers those advocates claim to [want to] protect.”

One simple example will suffice. One of the most cited incidents reflective of the dangers inherent in today’s Internet, according to net neutrality supporters, occurred between Madison River Communications (MRC) located in rural Mebane, North Carolina, and Vonage. Back in 2004 MRC blocked Vonage, a voice-over-Internet protocol (VoIP) telephone provider, from using its service as it competed with a local similar service.

The FCC mandated a settlement that would likely have occurred anyway without federal interference. Today, residents in Mebane have access to five broadband providers, giving MRC plenty of competition and plenty of reason to be more responsive to the needs of its customers.

And this is the single case most often referred to by statists building their case for giving the FCC more power to interfere in such local matters.ObamaNet

But the “control” mindset is firmly implanted as evidenced by Matt Wood, a writer for the Free Press blog. He observed, “Letting the carriers charge more or less money to reach certain sites is discriminatory, and it’s not how the Internet is supposed to work.”

No, Matt, that’s exactly how the Internet is supposed to work, if it’s left alone to provide competitive services to its customers. Once the FCC is empowered to interfere, however, Matt, the new “net neutral” Internet will be slower, most costly, and less useful to those customers.

There are other dangers to “net neutrality” as well. As David Farber, a former chief technologist of the FCC, expressed it:

My fear is that regulating the Internet like a telecommunications service [utility] potentially opens a Pandora’s box.

Once that box is opened, it will prove impossible to close. Good intentions expressed by Wheeler to use a “light touch” in the early days of the new regulatory paradigm will hardly provide insurance against vastly more invasive intrusions by his future replacements. As the policy director at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Clyde Wayne Crews, put it:

In expanding utility regulation into the modern era, what the FCC is doing will set new precedents that irretrievably undermine [the Internet’s] critical infrastructure’s evolution across sectors and harm the nation.


 

A graduate of an Ivy League school and a former investment advisor, Bob is a regular contributor to The New American magazine and blogs frequently at www. LightFromTheRight.com, primarily on economics and politics.


 

This article was also based on multiple entries on the Denise Simon Experience blog at the Founders Code regarding the email scandal brewing.

"Net Neutrality" and "Internet Taxation" – How to Proceed?

Editor’s Note – “Net Neutrality” and “Internet Taxation” are hot topics once again and Obama is trying to force the concept through regulation by the FCC; he first mentioned the idea back in 2007. On one hand, his explanation sounds meritorious but once you look under the hood, some glaring issues emerge and opinions vary in several directions.

On the White House web site, Obama explains his take:

More than any other invention of our time, the Internet has unlocked possibilities we could just barely imagine a generation ago. And here’s a big reason we’ve seen such incredible growth and innovation: Most Internet providers have treated Internet traffic equally.

That’s a principle known as “net neutrality” — and it says that an entrepreneur’s fledgling company should have the same chance to succeed as established corporations, and that access to a high school student’s blog shouldn’t be unfairly slowed down to make way for advertisers with more money.

That’s what President Obama believes, and what he means when he says there should be no gatekeepers between you and your favorite online sites and services.

And as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) considers new rules for how to safeguard competition and user choice, we cannot take that principle of net neutrality for granted. Ensuring a free and open Internet is the only way we can preserve the Internet’s power to connect our world. That’s why the President has laid out a plan to do it, and is asking the FCC to implement it.

The problem is, some think he is trying to turn broadband ISP into a “common carrier” designation emanating from the law that created the FCC under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. If the ISP providers were classified in that manner, we could expect regulation like utilities instead of the free market place of ideas the internet has been from day one.

DeptInternet2

When has anything the federal government took control over benefited the economic engine of America? Many experts see the negatives of price controls, limiting interaction, squelching innovation, and generally fixing something that isn’t broken.

Regulations would determine what products and technologies providers can deploy, all ingredients for slowing down what has been growing so fast over the last twenty years.

Comfortably couching the moves under the terms “preservation” and “ensuring,” is what would really happen – a larger government, more controls, more taxes and a lot less capitalism. Or is it? Is this where the Government picks ‘winners and losers” again?

We cannot allow Internet service providers (ISPs) to restrict the best access or to pick winners and losers in the online marketplace for services and ideas. I believe the FCC should create a new set of rules protecting net neutrality and ensuring that neither the cable company nor the phone company will be able to act as a gatekeeper, restricting what you can do or see online. – Obama

Also at Breibart, they list the top seven reasons government-enforced net neutrality is an awful idea and we encourage you to read the details of the following list on their site:

  1. We Already Have Net Neutrality;
  2. Some Companies Take Up More Bandwidth Than Others;
  3. The Government Still Allows Discrimination In Traffic;
  4. Barriers to Entry Are Created;
  5. Technological Stagnation;
  6. Internet Taxes Could Happen;
  7. Content Restrictions From The Government

Each of these are important points and with Obama’s track record of selling “pretty” ideas with “safety” words that veil their true intent are legend, think ObamaCare to start. Additionally, we encourage you to listen to an interview at the WSJ on “Opinion: The Case Against Net Neutrality.”

But wait, there is another viewpoint at odds with detractors and Obama, “Under Obama, the FCC appears to have given up on the goal of maintaining an open Internet” and “word of the proposal leaked to the press and sparked an immediate backlash. One hundred and fifty leading technology companies, including Amazon, Microsoft, and Kickstarter, sent a letter to the FCC calling the plan a “grave threat to the Internet,” – this is from of all places, the Council on Foreign Relations.DeptInternet1

Despite the missteps so far, the administration still has a second chance to fix its Internet policy, just as it did with HealthCare.gov. Preferably working with policymakers of all stripes supportive of open markets, it should ensure that the FCC adopts rules that maintain the Internet as basic infrastructure that can be used by entrepreneurs, businesses, and average citizens alike — not a limited service controlled by a few large corporations.

In the arcane world of federal administrative agencies, that guarantee comes down to whether the FCC adopts rules that rely on flimsy legal grounds, as it has in the past, or ones that rely on the solid foundation of its main regulatory authority over “common carriers,” the legal term the U.S. government uses to describe firms that transport people, goods, or messages for a fee, such as trains and telephone companies. (It is worth reading in full.)

It is hard to wrap one’s head around it all, but to be sure, what is being said may not actually be what is intended from the White House so there are several ways to approach this, you be the judge.

Fortunately, one of the areas that Breitbart points out, “creating taxes on the internet” seems to be on the minds of a bi-partisan group of legislators to prevent that very thing in perpetuity. We also suggest watching a couple of funny videos on the “Department of the Internet” at TPNN.

Please read on:

Internet Taxation Bill Brings Lots of Love from Telecoms

Congress is once again considering whether (and how) to tax the ability of Americans to make late-night Amazon purchases in their underwear, and the companies most interested in the outcome have been generous to the lawmakers leading the charge.

Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) this week reintroduced the Internet Tax Freedom Forever Act. The bill, which has the support of 39 other senators, would make permanent Internet tax regulations that have been on the books since 1998. Wyden co-wrote the original legislation that year, and Congress has reauthorized the bill five times since then.

“For successful 21st century innovators and entrepreneurs, the Internet is their lifeblood,” Thune said in a statement. “We should be celebrating their success, not taxing the tools they use to achieve it.”

Obama-Department-of-the-Internet

The bill has two main components. First, local and state governments would not be able to levy taxes on Internet use — a condition already in place, although some states that already levied such taxes and were grandfathered in would lose that privilege. The other part of the legislation would allow local sales and use taxes to be collected on Internet commerce, but online sales could not be taxed differently from the way that goods sold in brick and mortar shops are taxed.

E-commerce as a percentage of overall retail sales in the United States has steadily risen since at least 2005, according to census data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. At the end of the third quarter of 2014, e-commerce sales came out to $78.1 billion (adjusted for seasonal variation), or 6.6 percent of total sales in the country. That’s a 16.2 percent hike compared to third quarter e-commerce sales in 2013.

Both Thune and Wyden received contributions from major telecommunication and e-commerce companies that lobbied on the version of the bill (also introduced by Wyden) that failed in the 113th Congress; lobbyists for the firms were contributors as well.

Six companies and associations that lobbied on the previous version of the bill made the top 100 donors to Thune’s campaign and leadership PAC coffers between 2009 and 2014. Lobbyists hired by those companies also gave to him. Individuals employed by AT&T and PACs associated with the company contributed the most, coming in at $43,000 (its lobbyists gave another $56,349).

The National Cable and Telecommunications Association pitched in $39,250 (lobbyists gave $70,280),Comcast gave $34,000 (lobbyists: $62,250), Time Warner gave $28,000 (lobbyists: $14,750), Verizon gave $27,500 (lobbyists: $43,500), and the American Hotel and Lodging Association gave $27,000 (lobbyists: $2,000).

Wyden also received contributions to his campaign committee and leadership PAC from organizations that lobbied on the bill previously. Since 2009, Ebay gave the most in the group with $24,100 (its lobbyists gave $6,500).

The online retailer is followed by Hewlett-Packard with $23,000 (plus  $16,000 from its lobbyists), Verizonwith $20,000 (lobbyists: $14,000), Comcast with $18,000 (lobbyists: $12,500),CenturyLink with $17,500 (lobbyists: $8,700), and Deutsche Telekom with $15,500 (lobbyists: $13,700).

In general, U.S. telecommunications companies lobbied more than any other industry on the version introduced in the 113th Congress. At the head of the pack was the National Cable and Telecom Association, which mentioned the bill 32 times in lobbying reports, followed by AT&T, Verizon, the U.S. Telecom Association, NetChoice, and Amazon.

The top four groups lobbying on the bill — all Internet-providing companies and their trade groups — spend massively on making themselves heard in Washington. NCTA paid $17.5 million in 2014 to lobby Congress and the federal agencies, while AT&T spent $14 million, Verizon $13.3 million, and the U.S. Telecom Association $5.5 million.

NetChoice, an association of e-commerce companies, and Amazon, the big dog in the e-commerce world, have been watching developments carefully as well. Amazon spent $4.9 million lobbying on a variety of issues in 2014, the most the company has spent on federal lobbying in a single year by far. NetChoice spent far less — more than $350,000 in both 2014 and 2013. But those numbers are a big jump from the organization’s first three years of lobbying; in 2012, it spent just $27,648.