Repealing Obama's Net Neutrality a Blow for Freedom
The FCC is expected to vote and approve on December 14 Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to end the so-called “net neutrality” rules imposed by President Obama’s FCC in 2015. This has provoked howls from liberals and tech giants that this is a blow for Internet freedom and another boon for big business. It is exactly the opposite. It is in fact a boon for economic and political freedom as are all the other Obama-era regulations rescinded by the Trump administration that have promoted economic growth and lessened our dependency on big government. As the Washington Examiner notes:
Sometimes you have to wonder how sincere people are when they gnash their teeth and pull out their hair over President Trump blocking or reversing an Obama-era regulation.
The latest cries of distress about anarchy and market apocalypse can be heard about an announcement by the Federal Communications Commission that it will roll back “net neutrality.”
Net neutrality’s dubious value is made obvious by the misleading way Democrats and many news outlets reported the decision. “F.C.C. plans net neutrality repeal in a victory for telecoms,” wrote the New York Times. Missing from the headline or lede was that the decision was a loss for Netflix, Amazon, Google, and other corporate giants that provide content.
Liberals oppose the free flow of information they can’t control and in the name of providing equal access to all they sought to regulate the access of everybody. They., in effect, sought to put toll booths and speed bumps on the information superhighway. As the Daily Signal reported:
On Wednesday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai revealed his most important change yet: eliminating the spectacularly nonsensical “net neutrality” rules imposed by President Barack Obama’s FCC in 2015.
The 2015 rules deemed internet service providers such as Verizon and Comcast to be “common carriers” under the 80-year-old Communications Act.
This allowed the FCC to subject those companies to meticulous FCC control over how they provide service --specifically, net neutrality rules requiring providers to treat all internet transmissions equally, even if the sender or consumer would prefer customized service.
Not surprisingly, investment in broadband networks subsequently declined, and innovation -- such as certain free data service plans -- was threatened.
But Wednesday, the FCC chairman revealed plans to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order and return to what he described as “the light-touch regulatory framework that served our nation so well.”
President Obama feared the free flow of information as a threat to his power grabs and attempt to fundamentally transform the United States. Just as cable news eliminated the old guard network’s role as gatekeepers of what we saw and heard, the Internet freed information consumers to seek the truth and speak their minds in an unfettered environment.
Under net neutrality, the FCC took for itself the power to regulate how Internet providers manage their networks and how they serve their customers. The FCC would decide how and what information could flow through the Internet, all in the name of providing access to the alleged victims of corporate greed.
The Internet, perhaps as much as the first printing press, has freed the minds of men from the tyranny of those gatekeepers who know that if you can control what people say and know, you can control the people themselves. And that is what President Obama feared. In a May 2010 commencement speech to graduates at Hampton University in Virginia, President Obama complained that too much information is actually a threat to democracy.
Obama’s fear of Internet freedom and the free flow of information was noted by Investor’s Business Daily when it editorialized in 2014:
We would suggest that it is because Obama has long opposed the free flow of information as a hindrance to his ambitious big-government agenda, an animus that started with diatribes against cable outlets such as Fox News and conservative talk radio.
In a 2010 speech to graduates at Hampton University in Virginia, Obama complained that too much information is a threat to democracy.
“With iPods and iPads and Xboxes and PlayStations -- none of which I know how to work -- information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a means of emancipation,” he opined.
“All of this is not only putting new pressures on you, it is putting new pressures on our country and on our democracy.”
We said at the time that we disagreed with his views. Dissent, we argued, doesn’t threaten our republic. But free speech restrains the tyrants and socialists who would steal our freedoms. The Internet is the direct descendant of the pamphleteers who energized the American Revolution. This time it’s not the British coming as tyrants, but Obama and the FCC.
In George Orwell’s classic 1984, the control of information and its flow was critical to “Big Brother” maintaining is control over the people and in manipulating their passions. Authoritarian governments and dictators worldwide know that lesson well. Now the Obama administration wants globalists to be the “Big Brother” of the Internet.
The ability to see how others live and the ability to exchange ideas is a catalyst to dissent and unrest. It is the preserver of freedom. The ability to choke off that flow is a necessity for authoritarian governments. That is why the Obama administration so hated outlets like Fox News and talk radio. The Internet and social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter have helped fuel democratic movements from our own Tea Party to the Iranian dissidents.
It used to be three networks controlled the information we saw and heard. Thanks to the Internet, talk radio, and cable news, we have access to formerly unheard and suppressed voices. News and commentary no longer has to get past the gatekeepers at CBS, ABC, NBC, the Washington Post, and the New York Times.
The Founding Fathers wisely provided for freedom of speech and of the press as a means of guaranteeing our freedom and our democracy. The Internet is the new free press and an outlet for or free speech.
As Investor’s Business Daily editorialized in January 2011, an unfettered Internet is exactly what the Founders had in mind and what tyrants fear most:
Al Gore didn't invent the Internet, but if Thomas Jefferson could have he would have. The Internet, with its Facebooks and Twitters, is the perfect venue for and example of the free speech the Founding Fathers enshrined in the Constitution's First Amendment….
The issue is not access, but control. In February 2008, FCC Diversity Czar Mark Lloyd, an admirer of what Venezuela's Hugo Chavez did to silence his country's media, wrote about net neutrality in an article, "Net Neutrality Is A Civil Rights Issue," published by CommonDreams.org.
"Unfortunately, the powerful cable and telecom industry doesn't value the Internet for its public interest benefits," Lloyd wrote. "Instead, these companies too often believe that to safeguard their profits, they must control what content you see and how you get it." Lloyd feels government should be the voice controlling what you see and hear.
Like the “control voice” on the old Outer Limits series, Obama and the liberals wanted to control everything you say and hear. Senator Ted Cruz, who opposed giving away U.S. control of the Internet to the United Nations or any foreign regulatory body, in 2014 rightly compared net neutrality to ObamaCare:
Cruz, who is mulling a run for president in 2016, compared the entire concept of "net neutrality" -- which posits that internet companies should not be allowed to speed or slow down their services for certain users -- to Obama's much-maligned healthcare reform.'"Net Neutrality' is Obamacare for the Internet; the Internet should not operate at the speed of government," Cruz wrote on Twitter. Cruz's spokeswoman, Amanda Carpenter, added that net neutrality would place the government "in charge of determining pricing, terms of service, and what products can be delivered. Sound like Obamacare much?"
Net neutrality was not designed to liberate but to suppress. It is the Fairness Doctrine of the Internet that like Obama’s war on Fox News and conservative talk radio is designed to marginalize and silence those who disagree with those in power.
Daniel John Sobieski is a free lance writer whose pieces have appeared in Investor’s Business Daily, Human Events, Reason Magazine and the Chicago Sun-Times among other publications.