In the run-up to pass the FCC’s dubious Net Neutrality regulations last year, many Net Neutrality cheerleaders went out of their way to tout the essential beneficence of the new rules. Breathlessly they told us, assured us, swore to us that Net Neutrality regulations were not about regulating the Internet. Rather, they were about, er, well, really nice things – but regulating the Internet, per se, was not one of them, of course.
You may remember a couple of these gems:
Net Neutrality is about preventing anyone from regulating the Internet.
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.
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.
…Contrary to what AT&T says, the FCC is not proposing to regulate the Internet and in fact has specifically disavowed the possibility…
…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…
Yeah, Art, it’s just the opposite.
With last week’s Senate Net Neutrality vote – which essentially affirmed the FCC’s ability to hamstring the Internet – we saw just how. It’s not simply about regulating the Internet anymore. It’s about controlling it outright. And, boy, how the Left wants to do that.
You see, lack of control riles them, frustrating their sense of “equity” and “social justice.” Still, the Left has a hard time coming straight out and saying where real control should be – it has to parade a straw man to deflect attention from its true goals. To get an idea of this tactic, look at what Gigi Sohn had to say after the Senate Net Neutrality vote:
The United States Senate today made it clear that consumers should have control over their experiences on an open Internet.
Hear that? Consumers should have control. Hmmm. Sure. How can one not agree with this? I mean, isn’t that what made the Internet blossom and grow in the first place?
But what the Left says and means are often at odds. Thankfully, Sohn’s consigliere, Art Brodsky, helps us read between the lines, letting slip what the real agent of control should be:
…[I]t would be a good use of governmental authority to make sure the Internet remains controlled by consumers, not by those who provide the on-ramps and set the tolls. (Emphasis added)
In other words, consumers are just window dressing, fodder for the Left’s “social justice” spin. Important stuff like the Internet can never occur without government control. Never! And Net Neutrality provides that, ensuring that the role consumers play in further shaping the Internet is kept to an absolute minimum.
Understanding the anti-property Left’s language is important. It took the better part of a decade to decipher that Rosetta Stone, but now it’s clear. Quite simply, Net Neutrality regulation has never not been about controlling the Internet. From its very inception, that was its goal.
FCC officials decide what the Internet must look like because it is their moral and rightful duty. And the marketplace must await their OK.
Going forward, if Net Neutrality regulations stand in court (though one hopes they will not), this same doublespeak and tactics will be trotted out again and again. On Internet privacy. On Internet security. On Internet political speech. On Internet whatever…
When that occurs, just remember this simple rule: If you hear a public official or aligned public interest group say it’s not about government control, lock up and hide all that you value ‘cuz that’s what they’re really after.