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Dying Freedoms

Robert Cleveland
Senior Conservative Editor

We're not as free as we used to be.



The Danger of Net Neutrality

Sandra Bullock in The Net

The Net is a 1995 cyber thriller film featuring Sandra Bullock. With an estimated budget of $22 million and a release date of 28 July 1995, The Net earned $50,727,965 in domestic box office. Including foreign markets, the film grossed $110,627,965 worldwide, and an additional $23,771,600 in US rentals as of January 2012. | Photo: The Net | Sandra Bullock, The Net, Actress, Internet, Privacy, Identity,

The Danger of Net Neutrality

Robert Cleveland
Senior Conservative Editor

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[Comments] Earlier this week, President Obama made headlines when, in a statement, he pushed to make the Internet a public utility that would fall under the regulatory authority of the FCC - a move that would open the door for massive federal regulation of the Internet.

This is yet another major policy decision coming from the Left with all of the best intentions, which would lead to disastrous consequences.

On the surface, Net Neutrality doesn't sound too bad. Millions of people have cable, and like it...but not nearly as many people like their cable provider. In fact, companies like Comcast, Verizon, Time Warner, and AT&T tend to be rather notorious for their exceedingly poor customer service - who can forget this little gem, where a man called Comcast to cancel his service, and ended up arguing with a "customer service" representative for about 20 minutes. And to make it worse, in most markets, people have no choice other than to go with one of these huge providers. Net Neutrality is a great way to stick it to The Man.

So when Comcast started throttling back the bandwidth it allotted to Netflix, essentially holding bandwidth for ransom, it was cause for concern. What if other companies started inflicting content providers with fees in exchange for bandwidth? If Netflix ends up paying one fee to Comcast, and another to Verizon, and yet another to Time Warner, pretty soon they will start losing subscribers because they will have little choice other than to raise their fees...which, as it turns out, is great for the ISPs, which also happen to provide content of their own.

I got rid of my cable TV years ago - it wasn't worth it to pay for content that I could get through Netflix or elsewhere on the Internet for much cheaper, plus a hundred (or more) channels of fluff that I would never watch...so I'm just the kind of user being targeted by ISP's decision to hold bandwidth for ransom. But in my mind, the risks far outweigh any benefits I may get out of okaying government regulation of the Internet.

The World Wide Web is one of the last bastions of freedom on planet Earth. That used to be the United States, but we've come a long way since 1776. Just look at where we stand with that Founding Document that shaped us into the freest nation on the planet.

We used to have Freedom of Speech, yet churches must fall into line or face taxation, despite that "make no law...prohibiting the free exercise [of religion]" nonsense. Government restricts speech all of the time, despite that bothersome "make no law...abridging the freedom of speech" nonsense. They spy on the press, despite that bothersome "make no law...abridging the freedom of the press" nonsense. Protesters must get permits from the government in order to protest, despite that bothersome "make no law...abridging the right of the people peaceably to assemble." Law abiding citizens must jump through hoops to purchase guns, despite that bothersome "the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed" nonsense.

We're not as free as we used to be.

It isn't a problem limited to the United States, it's a problem with governments in general. Whether their intentions are for good or evil, governments will regulate or tax whatever behavior they find to be unregulated or untaxed.

The "slippery slope" argument may be clich? and overused, but it holds true. The FCC itself, which would gain regulatory authority over the Internet under President Obama's plan, is a perfect example. The agency started out as a vehicle to ensure that we didn't end up with just the kind of monolithic media corporations that we have today. The idea was to keep the media cheap and open to the public, but it didn't take long before they got into regulating media content, as well. The Fairness Doctrine, a clear violation of the First Amendment, stood as government policy for nearly 40 years, and it was just a few that Democrats in Congress were talking about bringing it back. This administration has already come up with some frightening attempts to get Americans to report other Americans who spread anything other than White House propaganda. From here, it's no great stretch to see the United States government shutting off access to websites they don't like - Operation Choke Point for the Internet.

If we give the government the power to regulate the Internet, it is only a matter of time before that power is abused. The only real method we have to stop it is by refusing to allow it ever to start.


Robert Cleveland

Robert Cleveland, Senior Conservative Editor: Robert Cleveland is the IT Director for a document management services company. When he isn't working on computers and scanners, he's spending time with his wife and kids, or writing about just how jacked-up Washington politics is. He is a strong believer that hard work and freedom are what make America the greatest nation on the planet, and it is of the utmost importance that we never lose those values. Robert's other writing can be found at his blog, more...)