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September 23, 2009

I am amazed that most news outlets, including FOX and Townhall.com didn't cover this too much.  I hope Glenn Beck picks up on it quickly.  It's about something we have heard could happen.  It was broached just a little this summer, but it hasn't really been addressed...until Monday that is.

It's about President Obama's proposal to have the Internet neutral!  What??

Since the Internet took root as a mass communications phenomenon in the mid 1990s, a quiet war has raged in Washington over the extent to which the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) would regulate the new medium.

Until, now the Internet has been largely self-regulated, and the FCC has taken a hands-off approach. But that could change dramatically soon if the Obama administration has its way.

The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission on Monday proposed the most wide-ranging and specific rules so far for regulating how Internet service providers and wireless carriers handle subscriber traffic.

While the FCC has intervened a few times to discipline home broadband providers for blocking or hampering certain types of traffic, the proposal by Chairman Julius Genachowski could result in the first solid rules. It is also aimed at regulating, for the first time, how wireless companies carry Internet traffic to cell phones.

Telecommunications executives warned that the proposal looks like a solution in search of a problem. They said that unless the regulations are carefully implemented, the rules could stifle investment in Internet access.

Reactions to the ideas from Genachowski, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, broke down along partisan lines. Republican senators said there was no need for an unprecedented expansion of Internet regulation. Obama said that on the contrary, well-crafted regulation of the Internet would encourage investment and innovation.

On the face of it, Net Neutrality appears to be a popular and fair proposal.

Genachowski proposed new rules that would prohibit Internet service providers from interfering with the free flow of information and certain applications over their networks. In other words the FCC rules"would bar Internet service providers such as Verizon Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. or AT&T Inc., from slowing or blocking certain services or content flowing through their vast networks.

But critics contend that the proposals are nothing more than a backdoor way for the FCC to tighten federal control over the Internet by beginning with the regulation of Internet service providers. This would then expand into the area of content - what is published to the internet.

It's one thing to prohibit ISPs from interfering with the free flow of information over the web.  However, when the government oversees such information, regulates what companies can and cannot do in the name of neutrality and enforces its own interpretation of what is real information and what is not, then the government puts itself into the position of censurer.  In other words, the Obama Administration wants to open up a back door to information regulation. 

Net Neutral advocates in Congress and in the Administration do not want ISPs like Comcast, Cox, Verizon, AT&T and Charter to regulate what is provided, allowed or streamed on its services. In other words, Obama, the FCC and Democrats on the Hill want to order these ISPs to provide content and services they want offered and deemed as neutral.  That includes providing more liberal based information and less conservative (since the number of conservative sites over shadows the number of liberal sites 2 to 1 and the

Democrats in Congress have pushed for such controls in the past without success. In 2006 House Democrats offered an amendment to make Net Neutrality law, but the motion failed.

At the time Republicans warned of efforts to control the Internet.

Texas Representative Lamar Smith said during the 2006 House debate over the issue that he wanted "a vibrant Internet just like they do." He noted that the GOP's disagreement is over how to achieve that. "They say let the government dictate it . . . I urge my colleagues to reject government regulation of the Internet."

Genachowski's two fellow Democrats on the five-seat FCC said Monday they supported the proposal, which will give Genachowski a majority to push it through. The two Republican commissioners, Robert McDowell and Meredith Baker, urged caution, suggesting that new regulations not be based on a need to "alleviate the political pressures of the day."

Meanwhile, Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas sought to stop the proposal outright, introducing an amendment to an appropriations bill that would deny the FCC the funding to explore and develop new regulatory mandates. It was co-sponsored by five Republicans.

Still, it's unclear how the principles would apply in practice. The proposal is the starting point for a process to hammer out detailed rules in the coming months. Genachowski also left the door open to treating wireless networks differently than wired networks in the final regulations.

It's all about controls. Who controls the services, the information and the content on the Internet.  Watch for the FCC to move into areas over which it had no authority. Like celestial broadcasting (Satellite Radio & TV), cable, and, as we see now, the Internet.

We believe that the Constitution of the United States speaks for itself. There is no need to rewrite, change or reinterpret it to suit the fancies of special interest groups or protected classes.