LIONEL PODCAST: Net Neutrality Will Destroy the Internet

Congratulations. This past week the FCC announced good news, pilgrims, net neutrality is here. Your Federal Communications Commission (FCC), a non-elected and appointed federal government agency providing in effect toll booths to truth, voted three-to-two to “reclassify” the heretofore unclassified and unfettered broadband Internet and worldwide web as a common carrier service under Title II of the Communications Act. Again, the gravamen of action is the FCC’s reclassification of broadband as a Title II telecommunications service under the 1934 Communications Act. Applying and affixing the Title II appellation to broadband has the potential to drastically and radically change how the Internet is governed, giving the FCC unprecedented and boundless authority. This means that without the vote of your Congress, a federal agency now claims the power to totally regulate the heretofore free Internet. I cannot believe how liberals, progressives and civil liberties sentries somehow honestly believe that the federal government’s unencumbered regulation of the Internet somehow improves and broadens our freedom and liberty. Its potential for tyranny is boundless. Now that the Internet is a utility it may be regulated. So licenses to conduct a website are available to the FCC to control the commerce of your once precious and protected thought. Decency regulations can be implemented as they have in radio and television broadcasts. The resurrection of the patently unconstitutional Fairness Doctrine is certainly possible as it was the darling of the professional left as a way of combating the success of Rush Limbaugh and his imitators. Everything that was never possible is now capable of being had and constricted through the shackles of regulation. And with the governmental involvement and contamination, say good night to innovation and progress. Look no further than Europe and their Internet service to see what happens when the government infects a medium with its insidious regulatory contamination. Next, look for the use of intellectual property statutes to further limit free-speech as well as the often-cited reference to national security and the mythical, imaginary and illusive fight against the bogeyman and terrorism. Since the Internet was first developed and the proverbial genie got out of the bottle, your government has worked long and hard to think of every means possible to reverse the horror of free speech in the most powerful platform and medium possible. Congratulations.

It’s already been done. Without the FCC! In April of last year, you might have missed this headline: “Netflix Pays Verizon in Streaming Deal, Following Comcast Pact.” Thanks to Mr. Watson again for the cite. Here, read for yourself.

Paid-peering deals, which happen at interconnection points around the U.S., are not considered to be a “Net neutrality” issue by the FCC

Netflix has reached a paid-peering-interconnection agreement with Verizon, both companies confirmed to TIME on Monday.

The deal, which establishes a direct connection between the two companies to improve service for users, comes two months after Netflix struck a similar deal with Comcast.

The takeaway is that there was no need for FFC intervention or involvement whatsoever. And no need for a net neutrality Title II switcheroo. See? Good ol’ competition and free market maneuvering.

The Ambiguous and Vague “General Conduct” Rule. As per the FCC’s “Fact Sheet,” the aforementioned rule will allow the FCC to review (and one would think fine, suspend, sanction and punish in general) not-so-neutral net practices that may or could “harm” consumers or edge providers. Late last week the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed a letter with the FCC requesting that they clarify and tighten the regulatory scope of any “general conduct” provision:

[T]he Commission should use its Title II authority to engage in light-touch regulation, taking great care to adhere to clear, targeted, and transparent rules. A “general conduct rule,” applied on a case-by- case basis with the only touchstone being whether a given practice “harms” consumers or edge providers, may lead to years of expensive litigation to determine the meaning of “harm” (for those who can afford to engage in it). What is worse, it could be abused by a future Commission to target legitimate practices that offer significant benefits to the public . . .

Accordingly, if the Commission intends to adopt a “general conduct rule” it should spell out, in advance, the contours and limits of that rule, and clarify that the rule shall be applied only in specific circumstances.

The septet. From what can be adduced from a variety of sources, EFF notes that he FCC will evaluate “harm” based on consideration of seven factors:

  1. impact on competition;
  2. impact on innovation;
  3. impact on free expression;
  4. impact on broadband deployment and investments;
  5. whether the actions in question are specific to some applications and not others;
  6. whether they comply with industry best standards and practices; and
  7. whether they take place without the awareness of the end-user, the Internet subscriber.

What could go wrong? The same people that brought you the fallout from Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction and who parsed and dissected Bono’s “fleeting expletive” are expected to apply a sober and mature review to the above-referenced? Are you kidding me? Did you hear that, Bernie Sanders and Al Franken?

With a straight face, no less. Chairman Tom Wheeler had the elephantine huevos to say that the F.C.C. was using “all the tools in our toolbox to protect innovators and consumers” and preserve the Internet’s role as a “core of free expression and democratic principles.” And with a straight face, no less. Your broadband Internet service is now a public utility. Cue Taps. It’s toast. Elvis. Sayonara, freedom of expression. Hello, tyranny.

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