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.
You can bet the dems are not worried about unfettered access to Free Republic. I don't trust any strings they attach. None.
Congress and the Obama administration are doing lots of horrible things in the dead of night, but this isn’t one of them. Net neutrality is a good idea, and it is the way the Internet has always been. A packet is a packet, no playing favorites.
Democrats = Censorship
Not quite sure how you arrived at the comment in your title. While net neutrality will stifle providers from charging for different services that could help with the cost of network build out, it is also a content-neutral regulation. They’re not legislating equal viewpoints - they’re legislating open access to all comers.
Where I am at (rural area) we have DSL, but service with 768k download / 128k upload costs ~ $50 / month. Not cheap, if one is on a very limited income. So, it could be argued a lot of rural conservatives find decent Internet access hard to afford. I stuck with dial-up as long as possible, but, time is money, and if one is doing much on the Internet at all, the time cost of dialup becomes even more atrocious. That doesn’t even count the download times if one has more than one computer to keep updated, etc. The phone line literally becomes almost continually tied up.
A rough analogy might be the subsidies to the rural electric coops, and rural telecos. Those subsidies might be considered examples of excessive government, but without them, those of us in rural areas who are not wealthy might still not have electrical or phone service.
Internet access is surely not as important as electrical service, but, it is approaching the importance of phone service for many, many people, and surpasses it for some. I find our family / my little business approaching that category, myself.
That's what they think! I say bring it! They are just BEGGING for an ass kicking, and they will get it!
I am SO friggin sick of these traitors!
Granted that in a perfect world, taxes would be low enough that most anyone in rural areas could afford $50 / month Internet, actual cost electrical and phone service, etc. Unfortunately, that isn’t going to happen.
Your situation will change quickly in just a few years. 700 MHz services, WiMax, and the new white space devices will push higher speeds out to rural areas, and the multitude of providers should mean that pricing is competitive.
Are we as citizens obligated to obey laws that were put into bills without our knowledge; especially when they were done so purposely?
White House: Obama Opposes (un) ‘Fairness Doctrine’ Revival
foxnews | 02, 18, 09
Posted on 02/18/2009 11:00:11 AM PST by Righting
Edited on 02/18/2009 11:05:48 AM PST by Admin Moderator. [history]
From what I’ve been reading, you’re going to have to get in line behind a batch of other groups.
yup. this is an Omnibus Leftist Bill
Pending Invasion of privacy BUMP
thanks for the link
It’s not about being opposed. It’s about this being a needless goverment action towards control of the Internet. None of the boogeymen suggested by the fear mongers that propose such regulation have ever happened. The public can handle very well any company that attempts to sell un-neutral net access, and the companies know it.
don’t you mean , dit dah dit dit dah dah dah dit dah dit dit
“Net Neutrality” is just an aphorism that will be employed to enforce the opposite of its literal meaning. The camel’s nose is under the tent.
I agree. Imagine if phone carriers could charge you for receiving calls for another carrier? Or give tower sigal preference to their own customers and giving users of other carriers a busy signal?
I’m a supporter of Net Neutrality.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.