Admission against Interest- Net Neutrality Regulation Is About Controlling the Internet

by Mike Wendy on April 5, 2011

In the decade-long battle on whether to enact, or not, Net Neutrality regulations, one thing proponents of regulations continually hammer is that Net Neutrality is not about regulating the Internet, or imposing control over it.  Rather, it’s about giving back control to ______ (fill in the blank with your favorite dispirited cause, group or policy goal) through reasonable, cool, well-intentioned, or other-than-regulation, er, regulations.

Or, stated differently – that Net Neutrality rules are as benign as chocolate bunnies, rainbows and unicorns, as the following quotes seem to reveal:

An FCC official / spokesman

Net neutrality is about preventing anyone from regulating the Internet.

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.

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…

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…

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…

Control?  C’mon.  No one wants to control nothing.  It’s all in your head, man.   It’s all good.  Don’t you know?


The other day, I stumbled across this gem (like one of those “A14” stories, buried in the back of a mainstream newspaper in an effort to hide a news item).  In laying out the schedule for Free Press’ yearly confab (which will feature two of the three FCC Commissioners who voted to regulate the Internet, as well as Nancy Pelosi), Tim Karr of Free Press let Freudian-slip that Net Neutrality really is, well, about controlling the Internet.

A Professional Lefty admits Net Neutrality = control of the Internet

Hmmm…A decade’s long battle at that.

I’ll say.

It would have saved 10 years worth of trees if they had said it way back when, too.  But then, had they, they wouldn’t have been able to peddle the loaded phrase “Net Neutrality” – which, intentionally or not, appears to benignly sell the exact opposite of Internet control to the masses.

I mean, how far do you think the Internet authoritarians would have gotten if they called it what it really is?  The idea would have been DOA.  Imagine what the real bumper sticker would (should) have looked like?

“Trust us.  We’re with the Government.  The Internet will be better for all once it’s under our firm control, protected by ever-engorging, corruptible regulations that promote the narrow, parochial interests of politically influential, yet myopic competitors.”

Er, okay…

As Committee Chairman Fred Upton said during last month’s House Net Neutrality hearing – “If it ain’t broke, don’t break it.

How’s that for a bumper sticker?  Is that Neutral enough?

Sadly, probably not.  A professional lefty may have let his guard down here, but facts or truth rarely interferes with a pre-ordained political choice, as represented by Net Neutrality.



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