F.C.C. On Track To Ruin Last Truly Democratic Institution: The Internet



The best thing about the Internet is that it’s a completely unmitigated free-for-all. People can literally say or do anything. That’s also the worst feature of the World Wide Web (trolls, hate speech, misogyny, child pornography) but the relatively nascent life cycle of the Internet has trained us all to take the good with the bad. Almost to a person, we’ve agreed to abide by only one law: if you don’t want to see it, read it or hear it, then don’t. Click the next link. There’s quite literally something out there for everyone and almost anyone can leverage the tools of the Web to find success within their own particular niche, no matter how singular it might appear to one’s offline community. The Internet – the greatest of equalizers.

Enjoy it while you can.

According to multiple published reports, the Federal Communications Commission has offered a proposed set of rules that would effectively end net neutrality as we know it.

Edward Wyatt of The New York Times reports “The proposal comes three months after a federal appeals court struck down, for the second time, agency rules intended to guarantee a free and open Internet.”

The writer goes on to point out the patently obvious: in the decision to allow large media companies with deep pockets to purchase rides in the “fast lanes” of Internet service providers, the last egalitarian, populist institution we share as a human species is endangered. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. Equal opportunity denied to the 99 percent (or even in more charitable Romney-like estimations, 47 percent) by the superrich.

Wyatt writes, “The rules could radically reshape how Internet content is delivered to consumers. For example, if a gaming company cannot afford the fast track to players, customers could lose interest and its product could fail.” Yes. And there’s also this:

“Consumer groups immediately attacked the proposal, saying that not only would costs rise, but that big, rich companies with the money to pay large fees to Internet service providers would be favored over small start-ups with innovative business models — stifling the birth of the next Facebook or Twitter.”

But those arguments are pretty much still looking at the issue through the corporate lens. I’m more inclined to side with the proletariat view of Todd O’Boyle, Program Director of Common Cause’s Media and Democracy Reform Initiative, who warned “If it goes forward, this capitulation will represent Washington at its worst…Americans were promised, and deserve, an Internet that is free of toll roads, fast lanes and censorship — corporate or governmental.”

There is still time for the F.C.C. to turn away from the proposed changes. A final vote is scheduled for the end of the year. Let there be a huge public backlash that renders defeat unavoidable. Moreover, it’s got to come from the ground. Because this isn’t like Arizona’s recently vetoed bill that would have allowed businesses to refuse to serve gay Americans based upon “religious beliefs.” We can’t rightly expect corporate interests to intervene on this one. No threat of lost customers here. Just another opportunity to squeeze out competition.

We’re going to have to do this on our own, the way the tools and power of the Internet have famously inspired rebellion the world over: Occupy Wall Street, Tahrir Square, Julian Assange. Right or wrong, individuals and groups have made their arguments heard and shared using the Internet. It seems fitting we do the same here, while we still can.

Visit the F.C.C. website when the proposed rules are released for public comment on May 15, and for goodness sake, comment. I may be preaching to the converted when it comes to PoliticusUSA readers, but if there is any occasion (and obviously I believe there are many more) worth making our voices heard, this it. This kind of garbage flies because we are a listless and complacent electorate, but we can put a stop to that anytime.

We owe it to the Internet. The glorious, messy, crude, amateur, uniting, creative and wonderful universe – for all to share equally.

12 Replies to “F.C.C. On Track To Ruin Last Truly Democratic Institution: The Internet”

  1. Well this will be as the republicans want it. No dissension, no news they dont want you to hear, no porn, no unable to pay top play sites

    There is only one valid response if this goes through. Drop your isp and go back to dial up. Put comcast and the others out of business

  2. The Progressive Obama Oligarchy rules again, I wonder just how much Comcast and others gave to Obama and Dims campaign coffers? It Worked!


  3. I doubt the Republican politicians would be able to survive without porn. Screw free speech, but… no porn?!?!

  4. Obama appoints a chairman to the FCC that was a venture capitalist and lobbyist for the cable industry and the liberal establishment sees it as OK, another example of why we need to elect Elizabeth Warren to the White House to end this continuing Conservative control of politics in the US. Obama may be a Democrat but he is still very conservative and has surrounded himself with wonks that caused the mess we are in and continues to allow crap like this FCC decision to happen. If you want change scream and jump up and down to the White House and The FCC and hope the Ms Clinton decides not to run for the good of the nation, I am. If she does run she should put Elizabeth on the ticket as VP.

  5. I support Elizabeth Warren as well, but if you think she would have an easier time undoing this, then you are naive.

    The entire climate in Washington is messed up and Obama (or any President) is just one actor (be it a powerful one) in this fishbowl.

    It’s not just about the President. It’s also about Congress, the SCOTUS, lobbyists and other special interests.

    DC’s default position for the last 30 years has been in favor of big business and deregulation. It’s going to take time and a lot of organizing to change that. And what if Obama had chosen a FCC Chairman more to your liking, Andy? Do you honestly think this still wouldn’t have happened? If you do, then you really don’t understand how Washington operates.

    Just as I know Obama can’t magically wave a wand and solve all of our problems, I don’t expect Elizabeth Warren to do the same thing.

  6. Actually, Comcast is one of those companies who covers their bets and support both Democrats and Republicans pretty equally.

    Which is why I really wish campaign financial reform had more support, but then again, the SCOTUS (which is dominated by GOP conservatives) just made that wish more difficult to realize.

    Are the Democrats saints? Nope, but if the GOP had its way, everything to do with our government would be on the auction block to the highest bidder.

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