Can Elon Musk liberate our internet access?

In November 2023, the Biden FCC issued a Prevention and Elimination of Digital Discrimination (PEDD) order.  This order forbids any internet access practices that “differentially impact consumers’ access to broadband internet access service based on their income level, race, ethnicity, color, religion or national origin, or are intended to have such differential impact.”  The lawless test of differential impact (rather than differential treatment) became ordinary for such regulations.  Considering income level as a protected characteristic is a novel theory.  The order also puts the onus of proof on the providers: guilty until proven innocent.  Essentially, it makes the provision of internet access subject to the federal government's discretion.  Furthermore, it applies not only to persons engaged in providing internet access, but also to their contractors and partners.

Commissioner Brendan Carr perfectly characterized this ruling in his excellent dissent: “The Biden Administration’s entire approach to the Internet ... can be boiled down to one word: control. ... You can see it in the Biden Administration’s campaign to pressure Internet companies into censoring Americans’ protected political speech — a coordinated effort that is now on appeal to the Supreme Court.”  Also, “President Biden’s plan effectively hands the Administrative State veto power over every decision about the provision of Internet service in the country,” and “there is no path to complying with this standardless regime.”

This PEDD order underscores the ruling Democrat-Socialist regime's understanding that it has maintained control over the U.S. internet since 2010 (Obama-era net neutrality, or Obamanet) and the desire to maintain this control at all costs.

Starlink and Elon Musk

The regime perceives that the threat from Starlink, Elon Musk's satellite internet access provider.  Its quality is on par with or better than cable internet and continues improving.  At $120 per month, it is slightly more expensive than cable internet in most places.  However, it is ideal for small resellers, providing consumers and publishers opportunities that Obamanet prohibited, especially freedom of speech.  The consumer would be able to pay only for the delivery of the content he wants, and the publisher could purchase bandwidth for its content to sell readers or viewers a whole product.  Publishers will also be able to provide other services that Obamanet denies consumers: parental controls, enterprise-grade network security, and private access to the internet.

If Starlink creates a program allowing reselling bandwidth, any person can become a small ISP, value-added reseller, and content distributor.  The link from the base station to consumers can be Wi-Fi.  Such a service can start at less than $10 per month because the reseller would not have to carry YouTube, Netflix, Pornhub, CNN, and other bandwidth hogs to consumers who do not want them.  The provider will derive the most revenue from reselling parental controls, network security, and other services and distributing content.  Tens of thousands of such businesses can rise virtually overnight, especially if Starlink limits the number of resellers per potential million customers in each location (franchising).

When such services start, it will be hard for the Biden entity to explain why American citizens are compelled to pay for propaganda from MSNBC, Hamas, and Hezb’allah; have their computers exposed to hackers from all over the world; and have their children accessible via the internet to all strangers.

The FCC revoked the $900-million award, won by Starlink under Auction 904 of the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund, two weeks after the PEDD order.  This action provides more evidence that Biden’s FCC is targeting Elon Musk.  Quoting Commissioner Brendan Carr again: “President Biden gave federal agencies a green light to go after him [Elon Musk].  During a press conference at the White House, President Biden ... expressed his view that Elon Musk ‘is worth being looked at.’  When pressed by a reporter to explain how the government would look into Elon Musk, President Biden remarked: ‘There’s a lot of ways.’”  Commissioner Carr highlighted some agencies that followed Biden’s hint: the DOJ, the FAA, the FTC, the NLRB, the U.S. attorney for SDNY, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the FCC.

Net Neutrality Recap

To remind the reader, Obama-era net neutrality regulations were imposed by the Obama FCC in 2010 under the heavy influence of the Marxist group calling itself Free Press, with the explicit goal of defeating the First Amendment.  The ruling’s text openly said that purchasing a physical medium for speech (internet delivery or “termination”) is not speech and is not covered by the First Amendment.  When a court struck Obamanet down in 2014, the Obama administration expanded and re-established it.  With Trump's appointed majority, the FCC repealed Obamanet, but the repeal was tied up in litigation.  After that, 20+ blue states and D.C. imposed Obamanet equivalents through state laws.  The combined effect was the preservation of Obamanet nationwide: it is hard to create a publishing distribution system without the main markets (California, New York, and D.C.) and under constant threat that it would be dismantled after the next elections.  Biden’s FCC still intends to re-establish Obamanet on the federal level.


Before the 2008 elections, Thomas Lifson predicted that the Obama administration would use net neutrality to silence critics if Obama came to power, and this is precisely what happened.

The PEDD order includes a Report and Recommendation from the DEI Working Group.

The Obama-era net neutrality led to the concentration of the ISP market in the hands of the cable companies.  The secondary effect of the PEDD ruling is strengthening the Democrat stranglehold on cable news and programming.

These censorship measures are like those in book publishing history.  From the invention of the printing press in the mid-15th century to the early 16th century, book printing was a free-for-all.  When it reached sufficient volume and influence, censorship appeared.  It grew, peaked, and then declined.  Of course, the U.S. abolished this sort of censorship in the Bill of Rights, but Democrat-Socialists could not care less.

Image: Elon Musk.  Credit: JD Lasica via Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

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