To Congress or FCC for Net Neutrality – Principles Do Not Constrain Free Press

by Mike Wendy on August 19, 2010

Just four years ago the radical group Free Press wanted Congress to be involved in the Net Neutrality debate.  But since then, things have changed.  Realizing that they now have a stacked FCC – one which seems inclined to agree with much of their post-corporate viewpoints – well, who needs Congress anyway?  It only interferes. 

The following quotes are taken from some past and present statements / press releases on Net Neutrality; they reveal an Astroturf group at its finest hypocritical self, unafraid to use any means necessary to accomplish its untoward ends.

Press Release – May 19, 2006

“And the Federal Communications Commission’s decision last year to eliminate regulations that prohibit network discrimination has all but foreclosed future competition among broadband providers.

“Thank you for your leadership on this important issue. We look forward to working with you toward enactment of strong, meaningful and enforceable Network Neutrality legislation.”

  • Media Freedom Comment: This was taken from a Free Press coalition letter / press release in support of Congressional legislation to impose Net Neutrality rules on network providers.  At the time, the majority of FCC Commissioners did not share Free Press’ regulatory point of view.  Rightfully, Congress was seen as the proper procedural outlet to enact changes to the Communications Act which would have effected the group’s desires.      

Press Release – May 18, 2006

“If Congress guts Net Neutrality, independent music and news sites would be choked off, consumer choice would be limited, and the Internet will be become a private toll road auctioned off by companies like AT&T,” Moby warned. “We need to stand up for Internet freedom now. Congress must uphold Network Neutrality.”

  • Media Freedom Comment: With rock star Moby and Representative Ed Markey at the helm, this quote from a Free Press press release restates the importance of Congress’ role in maintaining Net Neutrality.  Interestingly, there is not one mention of the FCC within this statement.

Press Release – August 18, 2010

“It’s time for the FCC to take back its role as a policymaking body and act quickly to re-establish its authority over broadband and to adopt meaningful rules to protect the openness of the Internet for all Americans.”

  • Media Freedom Comment: With a favorable FCC now in tow (but a Congress largely against the FCC’s broadband reclassification efforts), the Free Press exploits the “crisis-tunity” of last week’s Google / Verizon legislative proposal to urge the FCC to, er, disregard the will of Congress and just act.  Constitutional and political processes be damned, the FCC must take back its dubious role and mandate Net Neutrality – NOW.  Not only does this statement reveal a decided shift in tactics – i.e., moving from Congress to the FCC to achieve its policy ends – it also shows a clear lack of principles and intellectual honesty, their position changing due to “whip counts,” not because of sound legal, Constitutional, marketplace or other arguments.        

Press Release – August 16, 2010

“Free Press applauds the Energy and Commerce Committee members for openly expressing support for FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski’s ‘Third Way’ proposal today. With their letter, Reps. Markey, Inslee, Eshoo and Doyle have taken a courageous stand for the American public by voicing their concern with the dangers of allowing industry to write its own rules.”

  • Media Freedom Comment: This release shows just how far the Free Press and even some in Congress want to cede Congress’ rightful authority to the rogue, though apparently now pliant, agency.  Note also that Rep. Markey – the guy moving with Moby for a Net Neutrality law of his own – has seemingly forgotten how important it is that “Congress must uphold Net Neutrality.”  The irony here is that what’s really dangerous, from a Constitutional standpoint, is that the FCC is seeking to write its own rules absent clear Congressional authority.  And the very Representatives who should be watching against this appear to have turned a blind eye to their sworn Constitutional duties.     

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