Unlikely Voter

Conservative views on polls, science, technology, and policy

Posts Tagged ‘ Net Neutrality ’

It’s all over. The Internet’s dying. They’ve been screaming for a year and a half that in order to Save the Internet, we needed to keep it heavily regulated. Today is the test.

Let me be clear: today is a day that has been a year and a half in the making. In crafting the Restoring Internet Freedom Order, Chairman Ajit Pai and the FCC team have sought to make it an airtight process. They’ve taken their time, held hearings, taken many public comments, dotted every ‘i’ and crossed every ‘t’. Pai does not want this one thrown out of court on a technicality.

So it’s taken about a year and a half since Donald Trump took office, for this key piece of Barack Obama-era regulation to be dismantled fully. But finally, no more will the Internet be subject to price and content controls according to the whims of the FCC.

“What, price and content controls?” you may be asking. “I thought this was about throttling and discrimination.” LOL, no, as the kids say online. The Obama-era regulations were about regulating the Internet the same way we regulate telegraphs and telephones. And yes, kids, Title II of the Communications Act includes both.

In fact, price controls are one of the central elements of Title II (47 USC 201). Except for government. Government is allowed to get free bennies from Title II-regulated carriers, but that’s it (47 USC 210).

Title II would have the government involved in micromanaging the valuation of infrastructure investments in the Internet (47 USC 213).

And get this? Do you want more Internet service? Too bad: Title II bans any building of new lines without regulatory approval (47 USC 214). Imagine government slowing down the Internet from rolling out faster and better to more people!

And yes, content controls are there. Were you a fan of the Communications Decency Act, that tried to regulate obscenity off of the Internet? Well, Title II Reclassification put the Internet under control of 47 USC 223, which bans obscenity over covered carriers. Further, screening of offensive material is part of the law at 47 USC 230.

Title II was a disaster if you want an open and free Internet, innovating for the benefit of all. Today, the day the Internet is freed of Title II, is a good day for everyone who likes an open Internet.

Favorable press coverage would lead you to believe that many states have passed laws replacing the “Net Neutrality” regulations that the FCC repealed. The truth is far different.

The so-called Net Neutrality regulations passed under the Barack Obama administration didn’t actually do what you think they did. Critics of the new actions want you to believe those regulations were about things like “throttling,” “discrimination,” and “openness.” That’s not really what it was about at all.

When states like Washington pass a law addressing throttling or discrimination, they actually aren’t “restoring the Net Neutrality regulations that the Trump administration repealed,” as some are suggesting. Because that’s not what was actually repealed!

In fact, it’s the new regulations – the ones passed by the Chairman Ajit Pai-led FCC – that require a degree of openness and transparency that wasn’t required before. The difference between the old law, and the new law that repealed it, is in a technical point of law.

The key point of contention is what law will be used to regulate Internet Service Providers (ISPs). Up until the Obama administration, ISPs were regulated as “information services” under the Telecommunications Act. That law, passed by Newt Gingrich and Bill Clinton, insisted that ISPs be regulated lightly in order to encourage innovation in a rapidly-advancing field.

The Telecommunications Act was an important reason that the Internet developed as fast and as well as it did in America, making us a global leader online. The World Wide Web wasn’t invented in the USA, after all. We just took it over by being the fastest and most innovative at it.

The so-called Net Neutrality regulations passed by Obama FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler threw away that distinction. Instead, it declared that ISPs would from then on be regulated according to Title II of the Communications Act, a much older law with much greater regulatory burdens.

Instead of looking to the future, the Obama-Wheeler FCC wanted to throw us back to the days of the telegraph and radio. Price and content controls are included in this regulation, concepts anathema both to free markets and an open Internet.

Ajit Pai said no, we can do transparency without Title II, so that’s what we’re doing. And no state can reverse that, as no state has the power to order the FCC to re-regulate the Internet.

Once you get the facts, you can see that this whole show is nothing but political posturing, detached from the truth of the matter.

Today some well-funded special interests are celebrating, but have no fear: Internet price controls are not coming back.

They didn’t tell you that during the Net Neutrality Red Alert, did they? Net Neutrality is all about content and price controls, not freedom. So it’s a shame that the Senate today attempted to bring it back by invoking the Congressional Review Act to vote to repeal the FCC’s Restoring Internet Freedom Order.

It’s a meaningless vote though. Even though the 51-49 Senate was easy enough for the Democrats to flip with the more left-leaning members of the Republican caucus, the House of Representatives is a different matter.

House votes are far more likely to be party-line votes, and the Republican majority there is far less likely to challenge the Donald Trump administration in an election year. The House will not join the Senate in this vote, and nothing will happen.

I’m not worried. The FCC voted to do the right thing. It’s the law of the land. Internet regulation is being rolled back to the sensible levels of the past, only with greater transparency than ever before. The Restoring Internet Freedom Order was a good idea, and we should keep it.

On Wednesday, many websites are going to host a mailing list building form from a little known advocacy group. Here’s what you need to know about their Net Neutrality campaign.