ROGER STONE: Time For Real Net Neutrality
In 2015, when writing his dissenting opinion against FCC 15-24 — formally known as the Report and Order on Remand, Declaratory Ruling, and Order in the Matter of Protecting and Promoting the Open Internet, but commonly referred to as ‘Net Neutrality,” — Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Ajit Pai had this to say:
“This is not only a radical departure from the bipartisan, market-oriented policies that have served us so well for the last two decades. It is also an about-face from the proposals the FCC made just last May. So why is the FCC changing course? Why is the FCC turning its back on Internet freedom? Is it because we now have evidence that the Internet is not open? No. Is it because we have discovered some problem with our prior interpretation of the law? No. We are flip-flopping for one reason and one reason alone. President Obama told us to do so.”
The singular reason why this-so called “Net Neutrality” came to the forefront is because then President Barack Obama ordered it. And who was prodding Obama to do so? Google. Microsoft. Facebook. Twitter. Amazon.
The Tech Left, funded largely by George Soros, had decided to champion under the banner of a benign-sounding “Net Neutrality” campaign and seize a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to grab the moral high ground in their determination to allow the giant edge providers to censor the Internet to suit their ideological preferences — ridding the Internet of conservative and libertarian content.
Google was especially vested, as the tech giant helped write the 2015 net neutrality rules and Google employees had more access to the White House during Barack Obama’s term than did Lois Lerner.
In the words of the other dissenting FCC commissioner, Michael O’Reilly, Net Neutrality is not “forbearance” but rather “faux-bearance.” This coined word invokes the bogus nature of the claim that Net Neutrality promotes a fair and free market Internet, with a neutral level playing field.
The term “forbearance,” in FCC parlance, means that the FCC can elect not to apply rules in specific instances and to specific entities. The FCC can pick and choose whom to regulate vigorously and whom to give a free pass. This is de-facto creation of winners and losers by governmental fiat.
The truth is the Tech Left crafted “Net Neutrality” rules to regulate the Internet under Title II specifications that defined Internet Service Providers — the companies like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T that plug you to into the internet — to be bound by “Net Neutrality” rules, demanding that the internet service providers treat all edge providers equally.
But since the giant edge providers — companies like Google, Facebook, and Twitter — are content providers, they are exempt from “Net Neutrality” rules, free to restrain content by censoring out all conservative and libertarian views at will, without so much as an explanation to anyone why the objectionable views were banned..
The “Net Neutrality” rules as written by the Soros-funded Tech Left coalition would apply only internet service providers (ISPs), because under Title II only these ISPs (not the giant edge providers) are considered “common carriers,” defined under the Federal Communications Act as if their role on the Internet constituted nothing more than the Alexander Graham Bell telephone companies that were around 83 years ago, when the Federal Communications Act was passed.
The giant edge providers under “Net Neutrality” rules elevate themselves to the new dimension of “Internet information providers” that live in a realm above the lowly ISP “common carrier” Internet plug-in companies.
Abiding in this higher realm, lowly regulators need concern themselves with ruling upon the wisdom and judgment giant edge providers like Google, Facebook and Twitter exercise in passing their ideological judgments.
Giant internet content providers breathing the refined air of Soros-funded Silicon Valley see no problem defining “Net Neutrality” in a way that negates the First Amendment for conservative and libertarian views they despise. They are confident in their judgment that the First Amendment is nothing more than a primitive rule that derives from a by-gone era when printing presses were the ruling communications technology.
Neuro-linguistic programmatic word-play is a hallmark of the Left.
Consider the “Affordable Care Act” which makes healthcare less affordable, “Common Core” which lowers education to the lowest common denominator, “Global Food Security” which ironically increases world hunger and the “USA Freedom Act” which decreases freedom and liberty for all Americans.
“Net Neutrality” gives the US Federal Government the power to choose winners and losers, in an egregiously partisan manner. “Net Neutrality” says nothing about neutrality and everything about governmental control and nepotistic picking of favorites — the very opposite of neutrality.
Picking the winners wasn’t enough for Team Obama and his rabid leftists. They also wanted to create losers by punishing opponents with the cudgel of insurmountable and cryptic government regulations.
FCC Commissioner Michael O’Reilly identifies this point as part of the opening statement of his dissenting opinion:
“Today a majority of the Commission attempts to usurp the authority of Congress by re-writing the Communications Act to suit its own “values” and political ends. The item claims to forbear from certain monopoly-era Title II regulations while reserving the right to impose them using other provisions or at some point in the future.”
He later said “This statutory shell game seems to be height of arbitrary and capricious rulemaking.”
The American people were sold a bill-of-goods with FCC 15-24.
We were told that forcing cable providers to allow anyone to use their infrastructure would increase competition and industry investment. Exactly the opposite has occurred. Broadband choice has not expanded and broadband investment actually declined in the years since the passage of the so-called net neutrality rules, undoing a decade long trend of ever greater investment.
“Net Neutrality” has also failed to keep the internet free and open. By providing forbearance cover to their Silicon Valley political patrons, the FCC functionaries empowered during the Obama administration look the other way as the First Amendment rights of millions of Americans with conservative- or libertarian-minded viewpoints have been trampled.
By establishing itself as the sole regulator and arbiter of the structural basis of the internet, the FCC has legalized censorship, allowing Soros-funded groups to run rampant spreading the most violent messages possible, while at the same time aggressively censoring Trump supporters and patriotic Americans who desire only to make their country great again. In the Obama years, complaints to the single regulating body, the FCC, were expected to fall upon deaf ears.
If Donald J. Trump had not won the election in 2016, there is little question that the vibrant alternative media that exists today would be but a dim shadow of its current self. Even today, calls for outright censorship of Breitbart, Drudge Report, and Infowars are screeched out of the same mouths that call for “fairness” of content.
When the Obama-appointed partisans passed FCC 15-24 in their 3-2 vote, dissenter Ajit Pai closed his comments with:
“At the beginning of this proceeding, I quoted Google’s former CEO, Eric Schmidt, who once said: ‘The Internet is the first thing that humanity has built that humanity doesn’t understand.’
This proceeding makes abundantly clear that the FCC still doesn’t get it.
But the American people clearly do. The threat to Internet freedom has awakened a sleeping giant. And I am optimistic that we will look back on today’s vote as an aberration, a temporary deviation from the bipartisan path that has served us so well. I don’t know whether this plan will be vacated by a court, reversed by Congress, or overturned by a future Commission. But I do believe that its days are numbered.
For all of these reasons, I dissent.”
How fortunately ironic that it is Ajit Pai himself, as the Trump-appointed chair of the FCC, that will pull the plug on the ill-intended act called “Net Neutrality.”
President Trump’s FCC is absolutely right to roll back these rules, which applied only to broadband service providers like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T.
In closing, this glaring example of a ham-handed attempt to abuse governmental power for partisan gain demonstrates clearly that Congress needs to act quickly to establish protections for American consumers so that all companies play by the same rules. Nobody should be allowed to block content. Social media has become the new “public square”, and First Amendment protections equally apply.
Roger Stone is a legendary Republican political consultant and a veteran of many national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.