Frequently Asked Questions

Why did the Obama White House Demand, and get, Title II regulation from the FCC?
What are “Title II” Regulations?
Will there be “network neutrality” if Title II is repealed?
Why should we worry about government control over the Internet?

Why did the Obama White House demand, and get, Title II regulation from the FCC?

Far-left organizations such as Free Press, Public Knowledge, and have long sought their ultimate goal of a government-controlled Internet.  To the far left, political control over the economy is a fundamental goal, and that goes double for the Internet, since it the most important communications medium that the left does not control.  Some large Silicon Valley companies which had worked hard to help elect Obama also wanted to regulate Internet Service Providers to guarantee themselves zero-cost access to downstream bandwidth.  An alliance of these ideological and corporate interests successfully pressed the Obama White House for action that could deliver a political win after the American people gave Republicans control of the Senate in 2014.

What are “Title II” regulations?

Title II is a part of the Communications Act of 1934, a federal law signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt on June 19, 1934.  The law established the Federal Communications Commission, and Title II of the Act made telephone services “common carriers,” subjecting them to public utility regulations including price regulation and pervasive regulatory control of products and services.  Back then, telephone service was a government protected monopoly – nothing like competitive Internet Services are today.  Treating highly competitive modern-day Internet companies as if they were clunky old Ma Bell telephone monopolies has always been a reckless and unnecessary application of government power — and the Democratic FCC was close to using this vast new power to ban popular sponsored data mobile plans when the presidential election cost them control. Title II was chosen as an instrument to regulate the Internet not because it solved any existing problem, but because the far left wanted to maximize government control over the Internet. The immediate result has been a substantial decline in private investment and job creation as companies face uncertainty on whether FCC bureaucrats will let them offer innovative products and services.

Will there be “network neutrality” if Title II is repealed?

The Internet has always been “neutral” in the sense that no Internet Service Provider (ISP) has blocked websites that compete with their own services, or otherwise disadvantaged the content of a competitor.  This long history of “neutrality” happened without regulation.  The reason for this is that Internet Service Providers want to keep their customers, and one of the sure ways to lose a customer is to prevent them from going to the websites they want, when they want, with the highest speeds possible.  You, as a customer, are far more empowered to “regulate” the companies who provide Internet services than slow-moving regulators.  Competition, not regulation is the way to keep Internet Service Providers in line. Moreover, if an ISP engaged in blocking or other anti-competitive practices, the Federal Trade Commission has made clear it would protect consumers.

Why should we worry about government control over the internet?

Americans rightly oppose foreign governments’ efforts to place government controls over the Internet because they always come with a political agenda.  The same should be true here in America.  A government powerful enough to exercise economic control the Internet is powerful enough to control what flows over it.  We saw in the Obama Administration several efforts to disadvantage political opponents.  The IRS denying tax-exempt status to Tea Party organizations, the Federal Election Commission seeking to regulate the Drudge Report,* and the Federal Communications Commission seeking to monitor newsrooms** are three examples.  Giving political leaders control over the Internet is too great of a political temptation to increase their power over us, and is thereby too great a threat to our freedoms. If this seems unlikely, consider the already-visible decline in private investment and the high likelihood that it would be replaced by taxpayer dollars in the future to keep up with demand. Those dollars would likely come with strings attached – a public network regulated in the public interest could start to look like public broadcasting. Moreover, it is illogical for liberals concerned about potential abuses of power in the Trump administration to demand its FCC have regulatory control over the Internet.

* “FEC chair warns that conservative media like Drudge Report and Sean Hannity face regulation — like PACs” by Paul Bedard | The Washington Examiner May 7, 2014, 12:00 AM

** Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring. The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
“The FCC Wades Into the Newsroom: Why is the agency studying ‘perceived station bias’ and asking about coverage choices?” By Ajit Pai. The Wall Street Journal. Feb. 10, 2014 7:26 p.m. ET

Internet Freedom Coalition

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