FCC Passes Regulations Enabling Government to 'Micromanage' Internet

February 26th, 2015 3:01 PM

The FCC is from the government and they’re here to help with your Internet.

Invoking the agency’s Title II authority, commissioners of the FCC passed a plan to regulate Internet service providers (ISPs) like public utilities on February 26. This decision surely pleased the left-wing Ford Foundation and Open Society Foundations which gave groups calling for government Internet regulation millions of dollars.

The left has framed the debate over in terms of "net neutrality." Much of the left’s activism was supported by funding from $196 million from the Open Society and Ford foundations.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the Internet was "simply too important to be left without rules and a referee on the field." In contrast, Republican FCC commissioner Ajit Pai, a vocal critic of the plan and one of the votes against it, said the FCC was "turning its back on Internet" because "President Obama told us to do so."

Although not made public before the vote, the FCC’s regulations were largely based on a 332-page plan proposed by Obama on November 10, 2014. The MRC found that the broadcast news networks spent only three minutes, 38 seconds covering Obama’s proposal in nearly three months of coverage following his announcement, despite the plan’s major implications for free speech and the economy.

"The commission’s decision to adopt President Obama’s plan marks a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet. It gives the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works," Pai said on February 26. He also criticized the FCC and Obama administration for not making the plan public before the vote, saying it had been "developed behind closed doors."

Wheeler denied that the move was a government attempt to regulate the Internet, claiming "the action that we take today is an irrefutable reflection of the principle that no one, whether government or corporate, should control free and open access to the Internet."

The FCC adopted net neutrality rules with a 3-to-2 vote at the February 26, 2015, Open Commission Meeting. The left says net neutrality is the idea that all data should be transmitted equally by Internet service providers (ISPs). Critics like founder and Chairman Emeritus of MIT's Media Lab Nicholas Negroponte argue that net neutrality "doesn't make sense" because "the truth is, not all bits [of data] are created equal."

During the FCC’s meeting February 26, Ford Foundation board member Tim Berners-Lee commented via video that "today’s FCC action is about consumer rights, free speech. It's about democracy." Berners-Lee was the inventor of the World Wide Web and founder of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C).

In a speech February 11, 2015, Ford Foundation President Darren Walker said he was "thrilled" by Wheeler’s proposal. Walker said it was important that "the Internet remains for everyone," and that "as a public utility, yes a public utility, it remains a force for good."

Tim Wu, who coined the term "net neutrality," called Obama’s proposal to regulate the Internet as a public utility "bold and courageous and, in some ways, just obvious" in an interview with The Verge November 10, 2014. Wu became a professor at Columbia Law School in 2006 and was the former chairman of the board of Free Press. These two groups received a combined $6,832,000 from the Open Society and Ford foundations.