November 3, 2009
"Net Neutrality" Nets Out to Government ControlBy Lee Cary
There's nothing neutral about the Obama administration's push for net neutrality.
Do you suppose that, periodically, an ad appears in the Washington Post that reads this way?
Comfort food? Those include chocolate cake, macaroni and cheese, mashed potatoes, chicken noodle soup, fried chicken, ice cream...all the foods that make us feel comfortable.
Consider the titles of recent legislation.
First, there was the Troubled Assets Relief Program. Relief is a comfort word. Who doesn't want relief when their assets are troubled? And it's troubled assets, not toxic assets. Toxic sounds dreadful.
Then came the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Recovery and Reinvestment are like ham and eggs. Comfort words, both.
Now we face America's Affordable Health Choices. It's the full combination plate of comfort words. All it needs is "and Effective" after "Affordable" to reach Nirvana. It would roll off the tongue nicely, too. America's Affordable and Effective Health Choices.
There's another one on the near horizon. It's H.R. 3458, the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009, proposed (yet again) by Reps. Edward Markey (D-Mass.) and Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.). Its title says it's about "Freedom" and "Preservation" of the internet. Mashed potatoes-and-gravy stuff. What could possibly be awry with this bill's intent?
The organization Free Press supports it. Its motto is "reform media. transform democracy." (Oh, oh. There's that "transform" word again.) Ben Scott, policy director of Free Press, states:
That statement offers a veritable smorgasbord of comfort words: freedom; openness; public ... controls; economic innovation; democratic participation; free speech; promise. And the stark alternative if the bill isn't passed is an "Internet derailed forever." That's forever as in eternity. That's like being offered a gallon of freezer-burned Chocolate Pretzel Crunch ice cream for dessert after a meal of comfort food words.
Ben's boss, Josh Silver, who runs Free Press, identified the evil opposition to net neutrality in a Huffington Post piece.
There's the enemies list: industry front groups; high-priced consultants (What? No moderately priced ones?); and the big bad cable and phone companies that "mislead and misinform" folks. (Cue the boos.)
So, what does the Internet Freedom Preservation Act of 2009 propose? Here's the official summary:
A lot of open doors in that language: "take certain actions"; "various aspects of the internet"; "certain charges." Plus, give internet service to anyone and everyone who wants it, as in "any requesting person."
Here's what one of the bill's co-sponsors identifies as its basic intent:
So, to follow Ms. Eshoo's argument, the Internet has "thrived and revolutionized business and the economy." Now she, Mr. Markey, and the Obama administration want to regulate it so it will thrive and flourish. (So I take my truck into the dealership and say, "Fix my truck, Doug." Doug says, "What's wrong with it?" I say, "Nothing, it runs great. It just needs fixing.")
Masked beneath the comfort language of the net neutrality bill are provisions that will effectively turn over management of the internet within the United States to the federal government via the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). It's a power for which the FCC hungers. Perhaps it envies China.
So there's nothing neutral about the Obama administration's push for net neutrality. "Neutrality" is a D.C. comfort word for control.