The Battle Over Who Controls the Internet Comes to A Head
By: Deal W. Hudson
The battle over who controls the Internet will soon come to a head. Is it the federal government, as the Obama administration is seeking to establish, or the many private companies who collaborated to create it and the millions of private citizens who use it for their entertainment and livelihood?
Soon we will find out if the federal government is going to take over the Internet. Under the Obama administration the Federal Communications Commission is seeking to force AT&T and Verizon to lease their Internet lines to rival companies.
Requiring Verizon and AT&T to share their lines, the FCC would effectively be putting the Internet under government control. Control of the Internet is precisely what the Obama administration wants with its support of “net neutrality” — the idea that there should be no restrictions or priorities on the type of content carried over the Internet by the carriers and ISPs.
Obama’s support of net neutrality means that all Internet traffic will be treated equally, regardless of where it originated or to where it is destined. “I’m a big believer in net neutrality,” President Obama proclaimed only a few days ago while reaffirming his backing of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.
The groups backing net neutrality are opposed to companies like Verizon creating different levels of service by charging a higher cost for faster service. Other groups have argued that this kind of tiered service could also lead to “discrimination” against religious content for two reasons: Verizon executives may decide to filter religious content they find objectionable, and religious organizations may not be able to afford the faster service.
Those opposed to net neutrality argue that an Internet kept “open” by government regulation puts families at risk, for example, allowing sex offenders and pornographers to have unfettered access to home computers.
A month ago, in a severe setback to the Obama administration’s push for “net neutrality,” a federal appeals court ruled the Federal Communications Commission did not have the authority to issue a 2008 citation against Comcast Corporation for inhibiting some Internet traffic from high-bandwidth file-sharing services.
The court ruled that the FCC had not been legally empowered by the Congress to regulate the network-management practices of an Internet service provider.
The White House and its allies in Congress, however, are moving ahead with their plans to take control of the Internet.
The plan is to insert net neutrality standards into regulations from the 1930s regarding landline telephones. In other words, by reclassifying the Internet as a telecommunication service the FCC will be given a green light to impose its will.
Groups like the National Taxpayer’s Union, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Center for Individual Freedom have strongly condemned the effort. CFIF has a petition for those who want the FCC and the Obama Administation to “keep their hands off the Internet.”