This is the end of the Internet as we know it.
It’s the “Obamanet,” as L. Gordon Crovitz calls it in a great Wall Street Journal piece.
As you are probably aware, the FCC will vote Thursday to start regulating the Internet, with the commission Democrats who will carry the day claiming it’s necessary to preserve “net neutrality” and keep evil Internet service providers from charging big websites premium prices for faster connections.
Well, did you know massive web companies like Google already are granted faster connections? Maybe you didn’t. But I know you are aware that the best way to combat such a problem it to promote competition, not control companies. Presumably, should internet companies actually do this on a large scale, the purchasing public will look for Internet providers who provide them easy access to all websites, not a favored few.
Worst case, I’d rather it take you a little longer to boot up my little website than allow the government ultimately to start influencing what I write.
From the Crovitz piece:
The permissionless Internet, which allows anyone to introduce a website, app or device without government review, ends this week. On Thursday the three Democrats among the five commissioners on the Federal Communications Commission will vote to regulate the Internet under rules written for monopoly utilities.
The more than 300 pages of new regulations are secret, but Mr. Wheeler says they will subject the Internet to the key provisions of Title II of the Communications Act of 1934, under which the FCC oversaw Ma Bell.
Title II authorizes the commission to decide what “charges” and “practices” are “just and reasonable”—an enormous amount of discretion.
Defenders of the Obama plan claim that there will be regulatory “forbearance,” though not from the just-and-reasonable test. They also promise not to regulate prices, a pledge that Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has called “flat-out false.” He added: “The only limit on the FCC’s discretion to regulate rates is its own determination of whether rates are ‘just and reasonable,’ which isn’t much of a restriction at all.”
Bureaucrats can review the fairness of Google ’s search results, Facebook ’s news feeds and news sites’ links to one another and to advertisers. BlackBerry is already lobbying the FCC to force Apple and Netflix to offer apps for BlackBerry’s unpopular phones.
Supporters of Obamanet describe it as a counter to the broadband duopoly of cable and telecom companies. In reality, it gives duopolists another tool to block competition. Utility regulations let dominant companies complain that innovations from upstarts fail the “just and reasonable” test—as truly disruptive innovations often do.
What’s more, writes Randolph May in The Hill, companies under the new FCC regime will vie for government favoritism by seeking waivers from new mandates, promoting a practice our Founders had hoped to displace:
This likely flood of waiver requests should raise serious questions concerning the lawfulness of the agency’s mode of operating. As Philip Hamburger discusses in his book, Is Administrative Law Unlawful?, one of our Founders’ objectives was to control, if not eliminate, what in England was known as the “dispensing” power.
Aimply put, the dispensing power — which is much discussed in English constitutional history — was a form of exercise of royal prerogative under which the king could excuse himself or his favored subjects from complying with particular laws enacted by Parliament. As Hamburger explains, today’s administrative agencies, in essence, have resurrected the dispensing power by the way they so often use waivers to grant favored treatment.
Obama is indeed creating the most consequential presidency since Reagan. He’s extending government control to every conceivable aspect of our lives.
And this, like much else, is being done without the use of democratic institutions. Other than, I suppose, the Electoral College, which apparently made Obama king, which must be in the Constitution, although I can’t find it right now.