Here are the perils of crony-driven policy as exemplified by Senator Al Franken.

In the run-up to the Obama-Wheeler-Sohn Net Neutrality rule in the Summer of 2014, Senator Franken led the chorus, singing the praises of Google (and, by extension, Silicon Valley) and “simple” Net Neutrality – a policy designed by progressives to help, er, bring about the next Google by beating back “evil,” “gatekeeping” ISPs.

Leader of the Net Neutrality Chorus, Senator Al Franken.

Those of us against the FCC’s shenanigans have always known that the past two Commission’s “ISPs-are-the-real-gatekeepers” spin was intentionally off key: Google and the other dominant platforms write the sheet music, which the industry must play in order to exist in the Internet orchestra. Franken and his congressional chorus knew that, too, but were willing to turn a deaf ear to that as Net Neutrality was being composed because of Silicon Valley’s “support” of his Party.

By this Fall 2017, however, the Senator has started singing a different tune.

Last week, Franken got his new fake book from the Party, with the gospel hymns for Google and “simple” Net Neutrality all torn out of the songbook.

Notes Franken in the Guardian:

“As tech giants become a new kind of internet gatekeeper, I believe the same basic principles of net neutrality should apply here: no one company should have the power to pick and choose which content reaches consumers and which doesn’t. And Facebook, Google, and Amazon – like ISPs – should be ‘neutral’ in their treatment of the flow of lawful information and commerce on their platforms.

“Following years of hard work and dedication, we found in the Open Internet Order a strong and time-tested framework to protect net neutrality. While we fight to preserve the Order, we must now begin a thorough examination of big tech’s practices in order to secure the free flow of information on the internet.”

Sure, there’s an argument to be made that when dominant companies swing their market power around like a hammer, hurting consumers, it should be dealt with. But, we’ve never needed Net Neutrality to address that; antitrust law works fine (for the entire ecosystem, ISPs included). Of course, that’s not immediately helpful to progressives and their revised, anti-corporate agenda, all of which has been fashioned primarily to compete for votes in the ’18 midterm elections, and ’20 presidential vote.

Al Franken’s fealty to the beat of party politics reveals that the underlying policy has never been more than a crude tactic to remain in power and control people. Sadly, though, it is a willfully tone-deaf corruption, one which undermines free enterprise and its necessary checks on government, as well as (and perhaps most importantly) individual liberty, too.

Crony cacophony serves no one but its crooked conductor and those who direct his arbitrary baton. It is a refrain that must stop, or America’s Internet economy is doomed.

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MediaFreedom submitted the following letter to the FCC:

November 13, 2017

Marlene H. Dortch
Secretary
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, SW
Washington, DC 20554

VIA ECFS

               Re: Restoring Internet Freedom, WC Docket No. 17-108

Dear Ms. Dortch:

News reports and other sources reveal that the pending Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) order will likely repeal the prior Commission’s reclassification of ISPs as common carriers, thus moving U.S. Internet policy back to the “light touch,” Title I regulatory framework intended by Congress in 1996, and which was so successful in growing the Internet in the first place.

While this is welcome news, forces supporting the prior rule have aligned against the RIF to “RESIST” the progress proposed by the present Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in the 17-108 docket. Instead of working with the FCC to shape the RIF more to their liking, or with Congress to fashion a comprehensive, sustainable policy which would help the Internet further flourish for all Americans, they have enlisted the support of “RESIST” legislators in the states and localities to back-door utility regulation of ISPs, seeking to outright frustrate “light touch” regulation for the broadband Internet.

Over the past year, legislators in 30 states have introduced numerous bills designed to sabotage congressional revocation of the prior Commission’s ISP privacy rules, attempting to reinstate provisions of those rejected rules at the state level. All indications are that this strategy will continue and, worse yet, morph beyond the realm of privacy. Should these tactics find success, the end result would be a conflicting conglomeration of laws which would greatly undermine both the RIF’s goal of restoring true Internet freedom for all Americans, and the FCC’s role as exclusive regulator of interstate communications services. This must not happen.

In our 17-108 Reply Comments, MediaFreedom noted:

“If the rulemaking does not gut the former rules in their entirety, we hope those that remain will provide a ‘light touch,’ comprehensive Federal framework to guide the development and growth of the Internet ecosystem – one which recognizes the preeminent Federal interests at stake here, but which also allows states to experiment consistent with this framework…”

Provision of broadband Internet access service is an interstate communications / information service. By virtue of this, Congress has given the FCC exclusive jurisdiction to regulate this field. Consequently, MediaFreedom believes the FCC has ample authority to preempt state or local legislation which interferes with its overarching, regulatory framework. While this may be self-evident, out of an abundance of caution, when the FCC issues its RIF order, MediaFreedom urges the FCC to affirmatively express that its rule preempts state and local efforts which obstruct or conflict with the RIF’s uniform, national framework.

MediaFreedom believes the FCC’s efforts to un-do the damage caused by the previous Commission cannot come too soon. It can ensure continued success for its RIF rule by clearly preempting state and local laws that seek to undermine the rule and / or the FCC’s underlying authority to reconstitute “light touch” regulation for the broadband Internet.

Respectfully Submitted,

Mike Wendy
President, MediaFreedom.org

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The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of MediaFreedom.org:

Alexandria, VA, November 5, 2017 – MediaFreedom welcomes the House’s initial efforts at reforming the tax code. To be sure, the devil’s in the details, but at first glance, it appears that low to middle income earners may come out ahead with the plan, as well as corporate and pass-through entities. These are good developments. MediaFreedom expects that the plan can be made even better as the Senate enters into the picture to add its ideas to the package. To this end, one hopes this Congressional work is quick and comprehensive, and results, overall, in helping more Americans keep more of the fruits of their labor in their pockets. This empowers individuals, and provides the fuel to create more private-sector jobs and prosperity, which limits the corrosive, liberty-destroying effects of big government.

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Moore’s law – which states that roughly every two years computing power doubles – is being defeated by local officials.

How?

Cellphone reception in our area has been spotty for years. When at home, I get around this by using wi-fi assist, which connects my calls seamlessly.  Elsewhere  – especially near the local military base – service isn’t so great.

Recently, however, my provider began putting in new “micro-sites” to improve coverage. I look forward to this because it will make my smartphone truly useful in the areas where I live and do business – that is, in mobile settings, outside of my house (like the cellphone / smartphone is designed to do).

Establishing new cell towers for better coverage here has been a contentious issue for a long time. Parent groups and other “anti-radiation” activists have waged war on keeping cell towers off local school grounds, government buildings and private private property. Irrational (and debunked) safety concerns, among others, have hogtied local officials, creating a string of virtual dead zones in the eight-mile stretch of roads from Old Town Alexandria down to Mt. Vernon.

Anti mobile activist demonstrating in front of the FCC earlier this year.

Our area is not alone. This experience is commonplace throughout America.

Sadly, we all lose as a result.

The mobile Internet is the future. Private networks are racing to meet this demand. 5G technology represents the next step for U.S. mobile broadband networks. But, there’s a hitch. While it will provide lighting speeds for mobile products, its infrastructure also needs more cell site “densification” due to its signal characteristics. Consequently, for this next step to succeed, we’re going to need a several-fold growth in the location of cell sites across America.

Thankfully, this infrastructure will be smaller – about the size of a pizza box. But that doesn’t mean the challenges are any less. Rather, if our area is any example, it will only multiply the opportunity for local officials and activists to hold up technological, societal and economic progress.

Non-towered cell / antenna site located atop a private building in Fairfax County.

As the former FCC official who “discovered” wi-fi, Michael Marcus, tweeted this morning:

“Wireless infrastructure is a bigger contributor to #5G capacity than even #spectrum but faces problems w/timely local gov’t approvals…”

This does not need to occur. Localities should work with private operators to develop better policies which reduce bureaucracy, time and expense in getting mobile infrastructure online.  Sure, cities can do what they want. But, they will be left behind in the information age – and their constituents will have fewer tools with which to make their lives more productive, connected and better – should their policies and practices favor the slow road of the past.

Moore’s law, and the progress it brings, shouldn’t be laid low by snail-paced, extortive local processes.

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Sohn: Net Neutrality Regs Are the “Most Progressive Communications Policies in History”

October 20, 2017

In remarking on Julius Genachowski’s Net Neutrality Order in 2011, then Public Knowledge’s Gigi Sohn exclaimed, “The commission is in no way regulating the Internet. It was merely attempting to return to a modest level of traditional authority needed to safeguard the rights of Internet users.” (Emphasis added) But, it was all a bunch of […]

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Daniel Berninger: SCOTUS Must Address OIO & End FCC’s Reclassification Ping Pong

October 18, 2017

Daniel Berninger is Founder of VCXC, and was an intervenor in the appeal to overturn the FCC’s 2015’s Open Internet Order. Earlier this month, he asked the Supreme Court to take a look at the OIO. Berninger believes the OIO is specious and is especially offensive to the the First Amendment, which he notes the […]

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Google, Facebook and Twitter Should Ween Themselves off of the Section 230 Subsidy

October 11, 2017

A colleague of mine, Fred Campbell, recently wrote a piece in which he posits, “Maybe We Should ‘End The Internet As We Know It’.” In the piece he notes: If only the internet we know weren’t such a mess. Policies that net neutrality advocates are clamoring to preserve have facilitated the internet’s roles in undermining […]

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Bots Lose, Real Americans Win With the Internet Policy Debate

October 2, 2017

I wrote the following piece, which appeared in Morning Consult, September 26, 2017. Bots Lose, Real Americans Win With the Internet Policy Debate According to data gathered from the Federal Communication Commission’s Electronic Comment Filing System, approximately 22 million comments have flowed into the agency’s Restoring Internet Freedom proposal — a rulemaking seeking to modify […]

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Wheeler / Sohn FCC Knew Their Net Neutrality Comments Were Unverifiable, Yet Still Counted Them All to “Prove” Their Case

September 5, 2017

There’s a lot of freaking-out going on in the pro-Net Neutrality camp due to a study released last week by Broadband for America, which concluded, among other things, that “69.9% of [Restoring Internet Freedom] comments are in favor of repealing Title II once accounting for fake and unverifiable international comments.” The Net-Neuties think they smell […]

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MediaFreedom Asks FCC to Protect Free Speech, Innovation, Consumers by Ditching the OIO

August 31, 2017

The following filing was submitted to the FCC yesterday in the 17-108 Restoring Internet Freedom docket.  The filing can also be found on the FCC’s website here. REPLY COMMENTS OF MEDIAFREEDOM I. Introduction MediaFreedom1  would like to reiterate from its initial 17-108 comments our request that the Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) rulemaking eliminate the Open […]

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