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The Net DMZ is Still a Warzone

December 22, 2010

We all like the freedom of getting the information we want from the Internet, and the fact that it’s essentially free to post and get that information on a global infrastructure is always a wonder.  But even the Internet still has its limitations, and the increases in traffic necessitate a continued increase in the infrastructure that supports it.

The motivations of the industry players that drive the infrastructure are the same as any other industry initiative: money.  So what happens if the government threatens to come into the picture and regulate the ways to make money?  John Fund takes on the history behind the Net Neutrality move by the FCC in the Wall Street Journal today.

There’s little evidence the public is demanding these rules, which purport to stop the non-problem of phone and cable companies blocking access to websites and interfering with Internet traffic. Over 300 House and Senate members have signed a letter opposing FCC Internet regulation, and there will undoubtedly be even less support in the next Congress.

Yet President Obama, long an ardent backer of net neutrality, is ignoring both Congress and adverse court rulings, especially by a federal appeals court in April that the agency doesn’t have the power to enforce net neutrality. He is seeking to impose his will on the Internet through the executive branch. FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, a former law school friend of Mr. Obama, has worked closely with the White House on the issue. Official visitor logs show he’s had at least 11 personal meetings with the president.

I can’t do the research that Mr. Fund did justice in a blog post, so go read the whole thing.  He essentially details how a subset of progressive organizations that supported liberal media policy turned a focus to freedom of information on the Internet, and essentially manufactured research to show how it could be at risk from big, bad companies who wanted to control the information people could find.

To that end, Free Press and other groups helped manufacture “research” on net neutrality. In 2009, for example, the FCC commissioned Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society to conduct an “independent review of existing information” for the agency in order to “lay the foundation for enlightened, data-driven decision making.”

Considering how openly activist the Berkman Center has been on these issues, it was an odd decision for the FCC to delegate its broadband research to this outfit. Unless, of course, the FCC already knew the answer it wanted to get.

So essentially the FCC went to the organizations that would tell it what it wanted, and now it’s acting on the info it essentially self-generated.  That’s a form of strategic intent that gets pretty obvious.

So now it’s up to Congress to start unwinding some of the FCC regulations through legal action.  Yes, I just said we need congress to do something, and I’m fully aware that this means that they’ll cork it up too.  But this is where we are.  The entire Net Neutrality battle just became a contest between Congress and the Obama Administration over who gets to regulate the companies who seemed happy to give us what we want and make money in innovative ways around a “free” service.  This landscape change is one that will be fascinating to watch… kind of like a train wreck.

Updated: I was fast on opinion, and there are so many good takes elsewhere.  Michelle Malkin’s article today is a solid one as well.

As the Ford Foundation-funded Media Justice Fund, which lobbied for universal broadband, put it: This is a movement “grounded in the belief that social and economic justice will not be realized without the equitable redistribution and control of media and communication technologies.”

I hope that makes you feel as uncomfortable about the intentions for business as it does me.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 22, 2010 9:51 am

    .– .. .-.. .-.. / -.-. …. .- .. .-. / -.-. — — — / .- -. -.. / – . -.-. …. / … ..- -… / –… …– … / .– –… . –.- ..

    That was Congressman Greg Walden’s announcement that he will Chair the House Communications Committee. Representative Walden is not the guy that Genachowski would have preferred.

    I’m looking forward to the next session.

    • December 22, 2010 10:06 am

      Yea, the problem is that I’m concerned that this type of communication is too advanced for most in congress…


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