The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom

The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom

‘Net neutrality’ sounds nice, but the
Web is working fine now. The new rules will inhibit investment, deter
innovation and create a billable-hours bonanza for lawyers.

Tomorrow morning the
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking
an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by
attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will
circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

How did the FCC get here?

For years, proponents of so-called
“net neutrality” have been calling for strong regulation of broadband
“on-ramps” to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable
or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the
Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from
thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast.

David Klein

Nothing is broken that needs fixing,
however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off
from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse
and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to
protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and
the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality regulation
was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet
technology and infrastructure.

Analysts and broadband
companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the
perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising
operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain
that the new rules will kill jobs. By moving forward with Internet rules
anyway, the FCC is not living up to its promise of being “data
driven” in its pursuit of mandates—i.e., listening to the needs of the

It wasn’t long ago that
bipartisan and international consensus centered on insulating the Internet from
regulation. This policy was a bright hallmark of the Clinton administration,
which oversaw the Internet’s privatization. Over time, however, the call for
more Internet regulation became imbedded into a 2008 presidential campaign
promise by then-Sen. Barack Obama. So here we are.

Last year, FCC Chairman
Julius Genachowski started to fulfill this promise by proposing rules using a
legal theory from an earlier commission decision (from which I had dissented in
2008) that was under court review. So confident were they in their case, FCC
lawyers told the federal court of appeals in Washington, D.C., that their
theory gave the agency the authority to regulate broadband rates, even though
Congress has never given the FCC the power to regulate the Internet. FCC
leaders seemed caught off guard by the extent of the court’s April 6 rebuke of
the commission’s regulatory overreach.

In May, the FCC leadership
floated the idea of deeming complex and dynamic Internet services equivalent to
old-fashioned monopoly phone services, thereby triggering price-and-terms
regulations that originated in the 1880s. The announcement produced what has
become a rare event in Washington: A large, bipartisan majority of Congress
agreeing on something. More than 300 members of Congress, including 86
Democrats, contacted the FCC to implore it to stop pursuing Internet regulation
and to defer to Capitol Hill.

Facing a powerful
congressional backlash, the FCC temporarily changed tack and convened
negotiations over the summer with a select group of industry representatives
and proponents of Internet regulation. Curiously, the commission abruptly
dissolved the talks after Google and Verizon, former Internet-policy rivals,
announced their own side agreement for a legislative blueprint. Yes, the effort
to reach consensus was derailed by . . . consensus.

After a long August silence, it
appeared that the FCC would defer to Congress after all. Agency officials began
working with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman on a
draft bill codifying network management rules. No Republican members endorsed
the measure. Later, proponents abandoned the congressional effort to regulate
the Net.

More on Technology

Still feeling quixotic
pressure to fight an imaginary problem, the FCC leadership this fall pushed a
small group of hand-picked industry players toward a “choice” between
a bad option (broad regulation already struck down in April by the D.C. federal
appeals court) or a worse option (phone monopoly-style regulation).
Experiencing more coercion than consensus or compromise, a smaller industry
group on Dec. 1 gave qualified support for the bad option. The FCC’s action
will spark a billable-hours bonanza as lawyers litigate the meaning of
“reasonable” network management for years to come. How’s that for
regulatory certainty?

To date, the FCC hasn’t
ruled out increasing its power further by using the phone monopoly laws,
directly or indirectly regulating rates someday, or expanding its reach deeper
into mobile broadband services. The most expansive regulatory regimes
frequently started out modest and innocuous before incrementally growing into
heavy-handed behemoths.

On this winter solstice, we
will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches
of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The
darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter’s
night for Internet freedom.

Mr. McDowell is a Republican commissioner of the Federal
Communications Commission.

Census hands big advantage to GOP

Census hands big advantage to GOP



The just-released official Census data means that
Democrat-leaning states will lose congressional representation, while
Republican-leaning states will gain. Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics:

The apportionment winners were: Texas (4 seats), Florida (2 seats), Arizona
(1 seat), Georgia (1 seat), Nevada (1 seat), South Carolina (1 seat), Utah (1
seat), Washington (1 seat). The losers were: New York (2 seats), Ohio (2 seats),
Illinois (1 seat), Iowa (1 seat), Louisiana (1 seat), Massachusetts (1 seat),
Michigan (1 seat), Missouri (1 seat), New Jersey (1 seat), Pennsylvania (1

Overall, this represents a continued shift in the Electoral
College from blue-leaning states to red-leaning states. If the 2008 election had
been held under these census numbers, President Obama’s 365-173 victory over
John McCain would have become a 359-179 win. For 2004, the numbers are starker
still: Bush’s 286-251 victory would become a 292-246 win, meaning that even if
Kerry had won Ohio, he still would have lost (in 2004, flipping Ohio would have
been sufficient to give Kerry the win).

Americans are voting with their feet — abandoning the high tax and
regulation states run by Democrats in favor of the freedom offered by
GOP-dominated states in the Sun Belt. The sight of East Germans felling to West
Germany during the Cold War comes to mind. Luckily, New York, Illionois, and
California are unable to build fences to keep their citizens from leaving, the
way the German commies did. But I bet they’d rather build that kind of fence
than fences along our Mexican border keeping illegal immigrants

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WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange turns on everyone

WikiLeaks boss Julian Assange turns on everyone

  • By staff writers
  • From: NewsCore
  • December 21, 201011:19AM

Wikileaks latest coverage

Julian Assange
Julian Assange speaks to journalists outside Diss train station in Norfolk on Saturday / AFP  Source: AFP
  • Assange attacks former friends and US
  • Says rape accusers motivated by revenge
  • Claims to have material to destroy bank boss
  • Police feared he would be assassinated
JULIAN Assange, the man behind WikiLeaks, today launched a wide ranging series of attacks on both his enemies and allies as he defended his public and private conduct.
In his first UK newspaper interview since releasing hundreds of secret diplomatic cables last month, Mr Assange told The Times he predicts the US will face reprisals if it attempts to extradite him on conspiracy charges.
He accused his media partners at The Guardian newspaper, which worked with him to make the embarrassing leaks public, of unfairly tarnishing him by revealing damaging details of the sex assault allegations he faces in Sweden.

Related Coverage

He insisted that the women behind the claims were motivated by revenge.
Mr Assange said he had enough material ready to destroy the bosses of one of the world’s biggest banks.
Speaking from the English mansion where he is confined on bail, the 39-year-old Australian said that the decision to publish incriminating police files about him was “disgusting”. The Guardian had previously used him as its source for hundreds of leaked US embassy cables.
Mr Assange is understood to be particularly angry with a senior reporter at the paper and former friend for “selectively publishing” incriminating sections of the police report, although The Guardian made clear that the WikiLeaks founder was given several days to respond.
Mr Assange claimed the newspaper received leaked documents from Swedish authorities or “other intelligence agencies” intent on jeopardising his defence.
“The leak was clearly designed to undermine my bail application,” he said. “Someone in authority clearly intended to keep Julian in prison.”
He denied allegations of sexual assault and said that the allegations by two Swedish women he met in August “came from nowhere”.
Mr Assange was arrested and held in Wandsworth prison after Swedish authorities issued an extradition request. He was released on bail last week on a surety of £275,000 ($US427,872).
He said that he still had not seen the full extent of the allegations against him, although he accepted that his Swedish lawyer had been handed many of the details.
When asked if he was promiscuous, he replied: “I’m not promiscuous. I just really like women.”
Mr Assange also confirmed that WikiLeaks was holding a vast amount of material about a bank which it intends to release early next year.
Shares in Bank of America recently fell after speculation spread that it was the target.
“We don’t want the bank to suffer unless it’s called for,” Mr Assange said. “But if its management is operating in a responsive way there will be resignations.”
US officials are reportedly searching for ways to extradite him on espionage charges. Vice President Joe Biden recently called the WikiLeaks founder a “high-tech terrorist”.
Mr Assange said that he believed that the US situation would “turn around absolutely” as a groundswell of favourable opinion grew in America.
“The people in power are organised and were able to respond quickly,” he said. “But numerically they are not that strong and our support in the general population is tremendous.”
Mr Assange’s interview follows revelations that police feared he would be assassinated on the front steps of London’s High Court.
He revealed earlier he was told to keep a statement celebrating his freedom brief due a perceived threat on his life.
The police concerns emerged as Mr Assange revealed further details about his prison stay – including that he was housed alongside paedophiles and found support among prison guards.

Democrats Give Up on Four of Obama’s Pro-Abortion Judges

Democrats Give Up on Four of Obama’s Pro-Abortion Judges

December 21st, 2010

Steven Ertelt,

Democrats have officially given up on seeking votes for four  pro-abortion judicial nominees President Barack Obama put forward for  lower court positions.

In  exchange, they received an agreement from Republicans to allow  votes  on more than 19 noncontroversial nominees that have not earned   opposition from pro-life groups.

Included the four is the highest nominee, Goodwin Liu,  a law school  dean at University of California Berkeley nominated for  the 9th U.S.  Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco but whose  liberal and  pro-abortion views left him with strong Republican  opposition.

In addition to Liu, district court nominees Edward  Chen, Louis Butler  and John McConnell will not receive votes. Liu, Chen  and Butler are  judicial activists who are supportive of the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court  decision responsible for 52 million abortions. Obama  nominated Edward  Chen for the Northern District of California and Louis  Butler for the  Western District of Wisconsin.

Read more.