Nothing Neutral About Net Neutrality

By Phil Erwin

Heard the latest “paranoid” musings about the government using bi-directional television sets to eavesdrop on your every moment?

1940's book cover

1940’s book cover

George Orwell’s famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four predicted that politics would devolve to unseen, unknown and uncontrollable shadow governments taking over everyone’s thoughts, rendering the notions of freedom, choice and individuality essentially moot. Written in the 1940’s, the fictional mechanisms Orwell used were uncannily similar to aspects of our world today: Ubiquitous two-way television controlled by “Big Brother” (the “government”) continuously bathed the population in carefully-constructed brainwash-messages, while the return feed spied on each and every individual to inform Big Brother of any “unauthorized thoughts” floating around among the citizenry. Meanwhile, a “Ministry of Truth” continuously re-wrote history and concocted the government’s “messaging” (propaganda.) The government could see all, it controlled all, and it ruled so as to make sure it stayed that way.

How close are we to inhabiting Orwell’s dystopian world?

  • Virtually everyone in the nation now uses the Internet daily in some way. When the century turned, Internet access required a computer, and was limited primarily to tech-savvy users. Fifteen years later, the chatter is all about the “Internet of Things,” and we’re told that continuously connecting our homes, cars, offices and persons via smartphones and smartwatches is mere months away.
  • Originally an uncontrolled “marketplace of ideas,” the Internet is fast becoming a medium for the proliferation and spread of carefully-constructed “truths” as concocted by the political class and delivered via compliant “news” outlets. (Can you say, “PC Police”?)
  • Complete digitization of everything has now rendered the difference between television, radio and the Internet almost moot. Control of the Internet means de facto control of every source of information (except word-of-mouth, little more than a medium for “hearsay.”)
  • Our current Administration is exceptionally active, and quite adept, at using the Internet for “messaging” – distributing their carefully-constructed version of the “truth” of things. (It is at once ironic and ridiculous that they proved so woefully incapable of constructing a Website to “manage” healthcare insurance.)
  • While there is ongoing debate over whether the government should have access to our phone records, our e-mail, and our GPS locations, there is little question that the government can have access. If the NSA listened in on Angela Merkel’s conversations, you think they can’t hear yours? And while they seem to have trouble “finding” Lois Lerner’s e-mail, do you really believe they’d have any problem grabbing yours? (What did you think that gigantic, unadvertised, unexplained NSA data center in Utah was for, anyway – playing computer chess?)

We are, to borrow from Paul Simon, slip-sliding into an Orwellian world. Soon the government will be [capable of being] completely connected to us, with “information” [capable of] traveling in both directions, whether we are aware of it or not.

Then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously intoned, “We have to pass the bill to find out what’s in the bill…” Hardly a prescription for informed voting. That particular idiocy, blurted out in support of ObamaCare, demonstrates the fundamental notion that lies at the heart of the Progressive mindset: That Government knows what is best for the People, and thus should be free to make the rules first, and then tell the People how those rules will “help” them.

That is the Progressive Democrat’s idea of “democracy.”

Such un-Constitutional thinking recalls the “No Taxation without Representation” brouhaha that sparked the American Revolution in the first place, and led to the drafting of the Constitution. Yet here we are, getting comfortable with (or at least passively accepting) the notion that legislative change is “best” managed when We the People have nothing to say about it.

On February 26th, the FCC’s five Commissioners will be voting on a regulative package dubbed “Net Neutrality.” The idea being used to sell (bamboozle) the public on this measure is that the Internet “must” be managed by the Government, in order to “ensure” that everyone has “equal access” to Internet services.netneutral_1

This is more than a little suspect, since (excepting geographic limitations) everyone in the country already has equal, unfettered access to the Internet. Nothing is blocking, limiting or otherwise diminishing anyone’s access to Internet services. If you have a computer, you can get access. If you have a smartphone, tablet or laptop, you can walk into a coffee house and get access. If you can walk (or roll) into a library, you have access. There is no Internet discrimination to quash.

Sound like a problem the Government needs to solve?

Well, they think so. They create the problem by suggesting it might happen someday, to someone. And of course, they have the solution: “Regulation.” Meaning “control.” Which amounts to “ownership,” right down to the ability to charge for Internet access – otherwise known as “taxing.”

All of which is being accomplished right now, behind closed doors, with the substance of the regulatory proposal deliberately kept from public view until it has been adopted.

If you think I’m exaggerating, listen to Mark Levin’s interview with Ajit Pai, one of the five FCC Commissioners, who actually thinks you should have a say in what they are about to impose on the Internet. Here’s a little taste (my emphases):

Commissioner Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission

Commissioner Ajit Pai of the Federal Communications Commission

Nowhere in [the 332-page document] does the Agency [the FCC] identify any kind of systemic harm in the Internet economy. Nonetheless, [they] invent one in order to regulate it… We’re adopting a solution that won’t work to a problem that doesn’t exist, using legal authority we don’t have… The Agency will be micro-managing how all [the] consumer relationships work… The end result is government control of virtually every aspect of the Internet… We open up the door to Billions of dollars in new taxes… [Your Internet] bill is going to skyrocket… The entire process mimics ObamaCareA Washington bureaucracy that [keeps] this plan in the dark, and [won’t] release it until after it is voted on.

“Net Neutrality” had been the subject of public comment to the FCC for months; they have received over 4 million comments, a record, indicating just how important people think this subject is. Nevertheless, Commissioner Pai says that the regulatory plan, which goes far beyond anything he was anticipating, was delivered as a fait accompli to the FCC by the White House immediately after the November elections, and that the FCC was directed to keep the substance of the document secret until after the FCC had voted on it (meaning “adopted it,” – 3 of the 5 FCC Commissioners are Democrats.)

Never mind that the FCC is supposed to be an independent body, free from the meddling influence of politicians. Never mind that the head of the FCC is supposed to take the public’s comments into consideration when he formulates the regulations. This monstrosity arrived – gift-wrapped and ready-for-passing – from the White House. The FCC’s Commissioners apparently had nothing to do with it.

Nor, of course, did We the People.

Sixty-five years after Orwell penned his brilliant literary warning, we’re seeing his boldest, bleakest predictions coming true: A tiny cadre of unknown individuals taking command of all aspect of life. The grand irony is that Orwell’s metaphor predicted what England would be like under totalitarian Communist rule. Yet here we are, scant decades later, bringing those predictions to fruition in the “Land of the Free.”

How prescient was he?

How stupid are we?

If you don’t want to find yourself living in Orwell’s future, you’d better get on the phone to every Senator and Congressman you can find, and scream at them to cancel the FCC’s ticket!   Urge them to warn the FCC that if they pass the so-called “Net Neutrality” regulations without first letting the public see them for a 90-day review, they will pull the FCC’s funding and render that Orwellian body extinct.

I’m fairly certain the Internet, and we, can get along just fine without it.


Phil Erwin is an author, IT administrator and registered Independent living in Newbury Park. He sometimes wishes he could support Democrat ideals, but he has a visceral hatred for Lies and Damn Lies, and is none too fond of Statistics. If his writing depresses you, he recommends you visit Chip Bok’s site for a more lighthearted perspective.

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