Skip to comments.Democrats sneak Net neutrality rules into 'stimulus' bill (anti-1st Amendment)
Posted on 02/18/2009 11:07:17 AM PST by ebiskit
The House Democrats' $825 billion legislation released on Thursday was supposedly intended to "stimulate" the economy. Backers claimed that speedy approval was vital because the nation is in "a crisis not seen since the Great Depression" and "the economy is shutting down."
That's the rhetoric. But in reality, Democrats are using the 258-page legislation to sneak Net neutrality rules in through the back door.
The so-called stimulus package hands out billions of dollars in grants for broadband and wireless development, primarily in what are called "unserved" and "underserved" areas. The U.S. Department of Commerce is charged with writing checks-with-many-zeros-on-them to eligible recipients, including telecommunications companies, local and state governments, and even construction companies and other businesses that might be interested.
The catch is that the federal largesse comes with Net neutrality strings attached. The Commerce Department must ensure that the recipients "adhere to" the Federal Communications Commission's 2005 broadband policy statement (PDF)--which the FCC said at the time was advisory and "not enforceable," and has become the subject of a lawsuit before a federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.
One interpretation of the "adhere to" requirement is that a company like AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast that takes "stimulus" dollars to deploy broadband in, say, Nebraska must abide by these rules nationwide. (It's rather like the state of Nebraska demanding that a broadband provider filter out porn nationwide in exchange for a lucrative government contract.)
In addition, recipients must operate broadband and high-speed wireless networks on an "open access basis." The FCC, soon to be under Democratic control, is charged with deciding what that means. Congress didn't see fit to include a definition.
The Bush administration has taken a dim view of Internet regulations in the form of Net neutrality rules, warning last year that they could "inefficiently skew investment, delay innovation, and diminish consumer welfare, and there is reason to believe that the kinds of broad marketplace restrictions proposed in the name of 'neutrality' would do just that, with respect to the Internet." A report from the Federal Trade Commission reached the same conclusion in 2007.
In addition, a recent study from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce says that the absence of Net neutrality laws or similar federally mandated regulations has spurred telecommunications companies to invest heavily in infrastructure, and changing the rules "would have a devastating effect on the U.S. economy, investment, and innovation."
Now, perhaps extensive Net neutrality regulations are wise. But enough people seem to have honest, deep-seated reservations about them to justify a sincere discussion of costs and benefits--rather than having the requirements stealthily injected into what supposed to be an emergency save-the-economy bill scheduled for a floor vote within a week or so.
Net neutrality requirements can, of course, always be imposed retroactively on broadband "stimulus" recipients. As recently as one day ago, a Democratic Senate aide was saying the topic would be addressed in the Judiciary Committee in the near future; there seems little reason to rush to lard up this particular legislation.
But it always seems to happen. Last fall's TARP bailout bill included IRS snooping. A port security bill included Internet gambling restrictions; the Real ID Act was glued onto a military spending and tsunami relief bill; a library filtering law was attached to a destined-to-be-enacted bill funding Congress itself.
It's enough to make you want to force our elected representatives to actually read the bills they pass.
Here comes Little Lord Barry Bohica's back-door internet unFairness Doctrine.
It was fun while it lasted. See y'all at the printing press. Dibs on ink & parchment.
And the environmentalists won't let us nail our pamphlets to the trees anymore, either.
I wonder how long before it will be that Obama tries to station a member of the new Civilian Defense Force (or whatever its name is) in each American home. He has violated the 1st and 2nd Amendments. Violating the 3rd Amendment would allow him to gain control of the citizens of this country.
Net Neutrality bump for later............
“From my cold dead fingers!!!”
The one sector this stimulis bill will effectively stimulate is the law. There are going to be so many lawsuits on so much of this crapolla that the lawyers will be able to buy up all the foreclosed houses. The American bar must be jumping up and down and peeing itself with joy at this legislation.
There are going to be so many lawsuits on so much of this crapolla that the lawyers will be able to buy up all the foreclosed houses. The American bar must be jumping up and down and peeing itself with joy at this legislation.
Zero did say he was going to create jobs. /s
I wonder how long before it will be that Obama tries to station a member of the new Civilian Defense Force (or whatever its name is) in each American home.
Hitler has a “civilian military”....they called it the GESTAPO.
Actually, that describes an average Friday night for members of the Ninth Circuit.
Does this mean we’ll be getting something other than dial up soon? A mile down the road they have a choice of three/four different servers, we’re lucky to have one.
I think I'll just go buy a tin cup and brush up on Morse Code from my scouting days.
Dit dit dit dot dot dot dit dit dit.
Net neutrality is a pretty sticky subject. On the one hand, it sounds like (Un)fairness Doctrine. On the other hand does it sounds like a good idea to allow companies to give preference some peoples packets over others? Net neutrality, in the form it should be, is what has existed since the Internet came online. All packets are treated exactly the same by all routers. What companies want to do now is give preference to traffic that accesses their services, or the services of their partners, at the expense of any other traffic. This is not a good idea, and could serve to snuff out the “little guys” who use the Internet for their purposes. Do we want an ISP with the wrong poltical stance deciding that Free Republic is not important enough, and to drastically slow down their packets? Net neutrality deserves a closer look than this article gives it.
I still have to learn what grand and wonderful benefits will befall rural communities once broadband is more available.
The cows don’t need it.
And much will depend on how “underserved” is defined. Does having one wireless ISP constitute service? Many rural areas, including schools, have at least that level of service. There’s a lot of dark fiber around, and it’s dark for a reason. Build it and they will come is not a smart approach.
Note the first thing that will happen is NTIA gets $350M to prepare a broadband map. That’s because the feds have no idea of what problem they are solving.
So FreeRepublic then becomes the equivalent of the underground Samizdat press in the Soviet Union.
I really don’t understand who would be opposed to Net Neutrality. To me as a freedom loving American, the analogy about “porn filtering” has it exactly backward. Its the opponents of Net Neutrality who want to apply filters to content, not the other way around.
Yeah, let’s call it what it is.... GESTAPO
Bambi’s GESTAPO. Crush the people.
Gotta be a s***load of people including some dims that
are wishing they had never sold their vote for this modern Hitler.
Billakay, I agree with you on this. I think that Net Neutrality prevents the web access providers from using the net to control content and to send adverstisers down our gullet. Net Neutrality prevents the web from becoming an online version of home telemarketers.