Net Neutrality Cowards

by Mike Wendy on January 5, 2018

Yesterday, Recode reported that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai would not be attending the annual Consumer Electronics Association mega show in Las Vegas due to death threats.

This is not the first time he’s experienced such intimidation and abuse. Since May, after the Chairman announced the FCC would work to repeal Title II Net Neutrality, Pai has been subjected to a withering onslaught of racist screed and threats to his and his family’s safety. On the day the FCC voted to repeal Title II Net Neutrality in December, the vote was stopped briefly, and the hearing room temporarily evacuated, because of a phoned-in bomb threat (the attached pictures at left show an unprecedented security presence for the Net Neutrality vote in December, with bomb sniffing dogs and IED inspections among other tactics used to secure the FCC building and its occupants).

Dangerous cowards.

And hypocrites, too. The very people who want free speech for the Internet want to shut down free speech when the tide shifts away from their stance.

Net Neutrality policy deserves open, thoughtful – and, yes, safe – debate. It is time leaders pushing Net Neutrality (including the publications which handsomely profit off of exciting the pro-Net Neutrality nuts) stand up and condemn these acts.

Silence means acceptance.

That is unacceptable.

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

Alexandria, VA, December 14, 2017 – MediaFreedom congratulates the FCC for Restoring Internet Freedom today. In doing so, it returns the American communications landscape to the 45-plus year deregulatory trajectory which helped make the commercial Internet one of the most amazing, life-bettering communications tools since the Gutenberg printing press.

Importantly, it overturns the prior Commission’s cynical and heavy-handed Title II, utility-styled regulation of the Internet. That 19th Century framework was always-ever inapt for today’s converged communications marketplace. Not only did it greatly distort the marketplace by giving Silicon Valley a needless leg-up to “compete,” it gave “media reform” elites the force of law to control and censor speech they do not favor.

Good riddance to that deleterious, freedom-killing scheme.

The sky won’t fall. It will stay high up above us via the advance of technology, vibrant intermodal competition, industry peer group and standards-setting organizations, consumer transparency tools, and pre-Open Internet / Net Neutrality Order law enforcement practices. Together, this “light touch” framework will protect against real harm to the marketplace and society. It worked astoundingly well before, and it will again.

Liberated from un-needed Net Neutrality regulation, the return to Internet freedom will bring about more infrastructure investment, increased competition, a proliferation of new products and services, a renewed flowering of unfettered free expression, and a further closing of the digital divide. Stated differently, it will deliver real prosperity and liberty to all Americans, not just the barons of Silicon Valley and progressive policymakers.

The FCC’s actions today are a declaration of independence from the shackles of the prior Commission’s agency-constricted marketplace.  Still, the back-and-forth of the administrative process remains. To this end, we call on Congress to use today’s positive developments as a way to arrive at bi-partisan legislation, uniting all sides with an updated path to guide the future growth of the Internet for consumers and society.

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We’ve been told from its inception that Net Neutrality wasn’t about “regulating the Internet.”  Here’re some choice quotes from an old piece I wrote a couple years back to remind you:

  • [Then] Public Knowledge’s Gigi Sohn: “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. “
  • Free Press’ Derek Turner: “…Contrary to what AT&T says, the FCC is not proposing to regulate the Internet and in fact has specifically disavowed the possibility…”
  • [Then] Representative Ed Markey: “Net neutrality is not about government regulation of the Internet. It’s about fair rules of the road for the companies that now control access.”
  • [Then] Public Knowledge’s Art Brodsky: “…The most fundamental misunderstanding, of course, is that the FCC wants to take over the Internet. It doesn’t. The talking point, while appropriately inflammatory for the target audience, is simply wrong. There is no ‘takeover’ of the Internet. A ‘takeover’ raises the spectre of government control of content, directing which companies, sites and services can operate and which can’t. Nothing like that is even remotely happening, and it is irresponsible to suggest that it is. It’s just the opposite…”
  • Free Press’ Tim Karr: …[Speaker of the House John Boehner] knows full well that real Net Neutrality has nothing to do with a government takeover of the Internet. He’s playing dog-whistle politics and stoking irrational fears of government repression…

Today, Net Neutrality news publication-cum-advocacy group, CNET, put paid to that argument, very simply and concisely noting:

“Fundamentally, this debate is about whether or not the FCC should have the authority to regulate the internet.”

It sure is.  The absence of that destructive power – from 2005 until 2015 – is what made the Internet so great.  Thankfully, as reports have it, the FCC on Thursday will return America to that ’05-’15 framework, which helped the Internet ecosystem deliver so much innovation, prosperity and societal benefit.

The “we would never regulate the Internet” spin noted by the Soros spoxes above was always-ever a prevarication. It had to be, because the truth would never be able to sell their specious, authoritarian polices.

CENT was brave enough to admit this ugly truth.  Now, maybe they could go back and report some real news, and confront those Soros cronies about their purposely misleading statements.

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A handful of Senate Democrats (and others, like FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel) have made some headlines lately about 50,000 consumer complaints “missing” from the Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) rule making docket. This PR stunt – designed as part of the last-ditch efforts to delay the FCC’s upcoming RIF vote next week – was inspired by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) and its call to get informal complaints into the RIF docket, ostensibly to “prove” the need for Title II Net Neutrality.

What you may not know about the complaints is this: The NHMC commissioned a report on the 50,000 “missing” complaints, and it turns out that, well, the 50,000 “missing” is more like 20,000. (Even that residual number is highly suspect in this PR-spin nonsense)

It seems that approximately two-thirds of the “missing” complaints are irrelevant for this exercise. The researcher who wrote the study threw out over 30,000 complaints because nearly 26,000 of them (relating to data caps) were connected with “previous consumer advocacy campaigns;” and close to 9,000 were related to privacy matters, implicating third-party issues outside the control of ISPs. This left the researcher with a sample of 20,000 “missing” complaints not tainted by what she terms as “noise.”

Let’s be clear – the complaint process is no proxy for rule making comments, the latter of which has its own, well-worn system (e.g., the ECFS) to gather input from the public.  And, last I checked, millions used the ECFS to comment on the RIF.

The FCC has noted that the informal complaint process is used to identify trends in the marketplace; it is not a direct enforcement tool. Anyone can file a complaint on a range of Internet or other communications issues, such as broadcasting, cable, etc. But it will not result in a fine by the FCC for “infractions.”  Generally, parties to any given dispute work to resolve their differences, with the FCC mainly facilitating those communications. Most all complaints get resolved.  If a resolution doesn’t occur, however, one could take the unresolved complaint further to the formal complaint process, which is essentially a full court hearing.  This is rare.  So rare, in fact, that no Net Neutrality complaints have ever gone forward at the Commission.

The initial Genachowski Net Neutrality order in 2010 laid out the informal / formal Net Neutrality complaint process. That system was developed further by the 2015 Open Internet Order and the Wheeler Commission. With all the noise that the sky is falling and Net Neutrality violations are everywhere (or could be, that is), where’s the avalanche of formal complaints demonstrating the “problem” (that is, the real stuff)?

Just like the “missing” complaints – it ain’t there.

The FCC has all the information it needs to make an informed decision on its proposed rule.  The delay tactics used by the Net Neutrality lovers are as empty as their 50,000 “missing” complaints.

Let’s turn down that noise.

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MediaFreedom Hails Senate-passed Tax Reform Package

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The following statement may be attributed to Mike Wendy, President of MediaFreedom.org: Alexandria, VA, December 2, 2017 – MediaFreedom congratulates the U.S. Senate for passing its tax reform package early this morning. This legislation will help American companies of all sizes remain competitive, innovative and strong; and it will put more money back into the […]

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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 […]

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Localities: Defeating Moore’s Law, Technological Progress, Better Lives for Americans

November 1, 2017

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 […]

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