The FCC is getting ready to regulate the Internet under new rules on June 12, reclassifying the Web in an effort to preserve “net neutrality.” But though the push for net neutrality enjoys broad support from tech geeks and millennials, some warn that these rules could give the federal government the opportunity it needs to start censoring content.
“It is conceivable to me to see the government saying, ‘We think the Drudge Report is having a disproportionate effect on our political discourse,” said FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, one of two Republicans on the board. “He doesn’t have to file anything with the FEC. The FCC doesn’t have the ability to regulate anything he says, and we want to start tamping down on websites like that.”
Pai spoke to CNS News about his concerns that net neutrality could be used to give the federal government unprecedented control over what is said on the open Internet. “What you’re seeing now is an impulse not just to regulate the roads over which traffic goes, but the traffic itself.”
Pai isn’t alone in his concerns. Republicans have opposed net neutrality regulation since the start, insisting that the Internet needs no federal oversight. Presidential candidates like Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have spoken out against the regulations, but the idea that a small FCC panel could begin making judgment calls about content should frighten anyone who likes the Internet as it is.
A Time for Freedom
We need an open Internet today more than ever. The mainstream media has gotten progressively more liberal over the last two decades, refusing to accurately and objectively cover the stories important to the country. Worse, a handful of conglomerates own almost all of our old media outlets, giving them an outsized influence on the American consciousness. With the Internet, we don’t have to sit and be spoonfed our news by NBC. We have alternatives. If there aren’t any that match our needs, we can make our own. Say anything we want. The Internet has put rocket boosters on the First Amendment, giving each and every individual their own personal soapbox. It may not always be pretty, but it’s exceptionally powerful.
Those who support net neutrality want to keep companies like Verizon and Comcast from exercising dominance over Internet access. Their concerns are valid, but they seem unable to understand what they’re giving up in exchange for corporate limitations. They are unwilling to entertain the possibility that politicians could use this as a stepping stone to censorship. This blindness is even more baffling given the outcry over congressional bills like SOPA. They know the government wants to clamp down on content; why can’t they see that net neutrality provides them the perfect opening?
We’ve already seen through the Citizen’s United case that liberals have a funny idea of free speech when it comes to politics. If they can argue that certain websites have too much influence on our elections – or if they can rally around specious terms like “hate speech” and “obscenity” – they could forever change the Internet. The tech-minded say that we could just start a new Internet at that time, free from the prying hands of the censors. Perhaps. But maybe it would be better if we just protect the one we have.