Obama targets the internet.

Ajit Pai is a very worried commissioner at the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). Specifically, he is very critical about the Obama plan to regulate the internet, which will not be released to the public until it becomes law. On the FCC website, he has posted the following:
The American people are being misled about President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet. Last week’s carefully stage-managed rollout was designed to downplay the plan’s massive intrusion into the Internet economy and to shield many critical details from the public….I have studied the 332-page plan in detail, and it is worse than I had imagined.

He then explains that the plan regulates rates that providers can charge, and if those prices are “unjust or unreasonable” the FCC will take action. He also says that any offers to consumers other than an unlimited, all-you-can-eat data plan—are now subject to regulation. So in other words, if you use the internet much less than your neighbor, and would prefer to be charged by usage rather than pay for an unlimited plan, you may not have that option.

Ajit Pai echoes the Obamacare promise (if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor) when he says: If you like your current service plan, you should be able to keep your current service plan. The FCC shouldn’t take it away from you.

With the new plan, the FCC will be able to micro-manage the internet companies – including telling them where to put their infrastructure. It will also be a gift to trial lawyers. It will mean that any disgruntled consumer can sue an Internet Service Provider on the behalf of a disgruntled class of people who have been hurt or discriminated against by them.

And this will hit your pocketbook. President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet explicitly opens the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband. That means a tax hike on you.

Now we could ask, what is the agenda behind this? There is a saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. This regulatory morass is similar to Obamacare – a large bill that should be shown to the public in advance, and debated vigorously, before it becomes the law of the land. In fact, Obama made a promise that his administration would be transparent, and the public would get to see bills in advance. He obviously said that to get elected, not because he meant it.

So why is it being done?

Apart from the damage it will due to innovation and your personal income, we can speculate that it will affect content on the internet.

Not so long ago, Obama wanted to hand over the control of Internet domain names and addresses to an international body. Given that this body, just like the UN, would have had a significant number of participants who wish to create an information wall around their citizens, we can again ask “if it ain’t broke, why fix it?” Obama was thwarted in that particular intiative.

So far we have been talking about the FCC. But an article by Paul Bedard in the Washington Examiner says that the FEC (Federal Election Commission) is planning to go after content. They claim there is a need to prevent the influence of “dark money” on politics. They want internet sites to disclose who funds them. Democratic Chairwoman Ann Ravel, who called a hearing on this topic, has said she wants to regulate politicking on the Internet, though she pulled back amid a public outcry, especially among conservatives who see her move as a bid to silence center-right websites and Internet based conservative groups and news sites.

This could mean that bloggers who support a candidate near an election would be punished. Its hard to say. But we do know what was proposed in the recent past, when the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency planned to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run.

Ajit Pai notes that before Critical Information Needs, there was the FCC’s now-defunct Fairness Doctrine, which began in 1949 and required equal time for contrasting viewpoints on controversial issues. Though the Fairness Doctrine ostensibly aimed to increase the diversity of thought on the airwaves, many stations simply chose to ignore controversial topics altogether, rather than air unwanted content that might cause listeners to change the channel.

It was claimed that CIN was merely an objective fact-finding mission with the goal of eliminating barriers to entry for entrepreneurs and small businesses in the communications industry. Ajit says this claim is peculiar. “How can the news judgments made by editors and station managers impede small businesses from entering the broadcast industry? And why does the CIN study include newspapers when the FCC has no authority to regulate print media?”

Ajit is a Republican, but both the FEC and the FCC are controlled by Democrats. Their new initiatives may not be stoppable.

Though it is not yet clear the extent of how bad these ideas of politicized bureaucrats are, it should be obvious that they are bad ideas. They may be, as talk show host Mark Levin said in an interview with Ajit Pai, a “power grab.”  Or as Seton Motley says in a post in this website, it is starting as a “free market fight”, but will end up as a “free speech” fight.

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