Opinion

America’s Leaders Must Ignore Demands For Government Takeover Of The Internet

REUTERS/Mal Langsdon

Drew Johnson National Director, Protect Internet Freedom
Font Size:

A collection of progressive radicals are trying to turn the internet into a cesspool of corporate welfare, censorship and government control. And they’re trying to do it by strong-arming Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, the Republican National Committee and the Democratic National Committee into endorsing their outlandish demands.

These groups’ policies will shift control of the internet away from the hands of the people and into the grasp of the government by coercing the two major political parties, and the Clinton and Trump presidential campaigns, to incorporate their extremist ideas into their official platforms.

The “2016 Internet Policy Platform,” outlines the wish list of 17 outfits representing the interests of progressive foundations (such as the Ford Foundation), global elites (including George Soros’ Open Society Institute), and Silicon Valley hedge funders and corporate giants. The document calls for the federal government to increasingly interfere with, and eventually take over, the internet.

At first blush, the rhetoric used in the document seems harmless and difficult to oppose. But the Platform’s talk of “choice” and “free expression” is misleading. In fact, if implemented, the 2016 Internet Policy Platform would undermine the American principles of individual liberty, limited government and free market competition that make true choice and free expression possible.

The Platform claims to “Oppose policies that sacrifice free speech and freedom of the press.” However, the groups endorsing the Platform are closely affiliated with organizations that have actively and repeatedly opposed the very free speech goal they claim to now be advocating.

For instance, Color of Change, one of the groups signing on to the document, is a member of an umbrella operation known as Citizen Engagement Lab, along with Presente.org. Incredibly, Presente.org, has called on the Attorney General of the United States to arrest and prosecute Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump for speech crimes, arguing that the candidate’s positions on immigration represented a “clear and present danger.” So much for that “free speech” stuff they claim to support.

And Marvin Ammori, a fellow at New America (a Platform signatory) and the former general counsel to Free Press (another Platform signatory) published a 2009 white paper titled “Beyond Content Neutrality: Understanding Content-Based Promotion of Democratic Speech” in which he suggested that, “government need not be ‘neutral’ regarding speech, and can promote particular classes of content.”

Ammori argued that “government can subsidize, and thereby promote, favored content” and “with the most minimal scrutiny… impose speech-based exceptions to general laws in order to promote certain content.”

The conclusion is clear: The 17 signatories to the 2016 Internet Policy Platform advocate for free speech when it pertains to their speech, while undermining the free speech rights of those with whom they disagree.

The document also calls for “Universal access to fast and affordable communications platforms.”  That sounds like a laudable goal, but given the Platform signers’ support for government-controlled internet access, the reality may not be so innocuous.

For instance, the lead group behind the 2016 Internet Policy Platform is Free Press. In 2008, Free Press’ founder, Robert McChesney told the Socialist publication Monthly Review that “[A]ny serious effort to reform the media system would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself.” Regarding the internet, McChesney is on record stating his desire for an “internet that is not private property, but a public utility” regulated and controlled by the government.

Not surprisingly, the Platform advocates strongly for the expansion of government-controlled networks financed with new taxes,

The document also advocates for policies that would interfere with the free flow of information across communications grids; stifle innovation and private investment in the World Wide Web; and implement government imposed price controls and rate regulation.

The internet has been the world’s most powerful force for liberty, equality and knowledge precisely because of minimal regulatory burdens and a hands-off approach by government. Opening it up to state interference, as supporters of the 2016 Internet Policy Platform want, would put all of our gains at risk.

Rather than bowing to dubious attempts by shady progressive groups fronting for globalists like Soros to encourage a government takeover of the internet, presidential candidates and leaders of America’s political parties must fight to protect a free and open internet for all Americans.

Drew Johnson is National Director of Protect Internet Freedom, a grassroots, nonprofit organization of 1.6 million supporters dedicated to defending a truly free and open internet, and preserving it as a tool for democratic distribution of information, societal change, and technological innovation.