In a serious attack on freedom of speech, and another giveaway to giant corporate demands, Trump’s Federal Communications Commission chairman announced his plan to repeal so-called “net neutrality.” Obviously what that means for Internet access in America is that it will no longer be an open or neutral entity or free of censorship; it will be under complete partisan control of a trio of corporate giants.
In keeping with the GOP’s practice of working exclusively for corporate interests against the people, Trump’s Republican FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, did exactly what Internet giants such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon wanted and announced the elimination of rules that protected Americans’ access to the Internet. The soon-to-be abolished rules prohibited high-speed internet service providers from blocking or slowing down the delivery of whichever websites offended their sensibilities, or charging exorbitant fees for other internet services they consider unfriendly.
The announcement infuriated free speech activists who know what will happen when corporations control what is considered a basic right on the same level as telephones and television. And despite pushback from Internet giants such as Amazon and Google, it is all but certain that net neutrality is finished and corporations win again. The Republican FCC chairman said in announcing the corporate gift:
“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet. Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”
There is so much bovine excrement in that one statement it is curious why Pai would say things no-one with a functioning brain believes without choking on his lies.
First, it is curious that Republicans consider federal rules protecting the people’s Internet access as “micromanaging,” and yet they have no issue using the federal government to “micromanage” women’s vaginas and restrict their constitutional right to self-determination on when to give birth. It is also curious, and hypocritical, that the Trump administration “doesn’t want the government micromanaging the Internet,” but they have no problem micromanaging corporate mergers such as blocking AT&T’s bid to buy Time-Warner; Trump is suing to stop the merger on behalf of the federal government.
It is also worth noting that as it stands now, with net neutrality in place, consumers are already able to “buy the service that’s best for them.” And regardless the “speed” they buy, they have complete and unfettered access to an Internet that is “neutral” and not controlled by corporate interests. That includes “entrepreneurs and other small businesses” who have complete and unfettered access to all the “technical information” available on the web.
Now, what is the typically Republican pile of bullshit is this joke on the people that instead of rules preventing censorship, the FCC “will simply require corporations offering Internet access to be transparent.” It is code for the failed Republican claim that the people benefit most and are best protected when corporations regulate themselves. That did not work out for the Gulf of Mexico when BP made its own safety regulations on DeepWater Horizon, or when coal mining companies comply with their own safety standards. Giving the “big three” Internet providers free rein to “be transparent” as they see fit is something every corporation lusts for and naturally they immediately celebrated the FCC announcement.
In fact, upon learning of the FCC’s intent, the giant telecom corporations cheered Mr. Pai’s announcement because if there is only one thing corporations detest more than declining profits, it’s rules that protect consumers.
According to Jonathan Spalter, the chief executive of a leading telecommunications lobbying group, even though net neutrality rules are less than two years old, they are archaic and have crushed the broadband industry. The lobbyist parroted a typical corporate line that net neutrality, like taxes, has prevented the industry from making investments to help the American people by improving their access to the Internet. Spalter said:
“The removal of antiquated, restrictive regulations will pave the way for broadband network investment, expansion and upgrades.”
It is noteworthy that “net neutrality” did not prevent corporate giants AT&T, Verizon, or Comcast from investing in, or expanding and upgrading, their own broadband networks. In fact, they advertise that they are “constantly” investing, expanding and upgrading their networks – even after “net neutrality” rules took effect. And, repealing “net neutrality” rules will have no effect whatsoever whether or not a corporation makes investments in the services they provide; it is almost unbelievable they would make such a claim.
Various consumer advocacy groups and Democrats have noted what any sane American should be aware of; this move specifically harm consumers and Internet businesses that rely on net neutrality rules to ensure that all content is equally available to all Americans. And they did not hesitate in citing the greatest threat cognizant Americans have feared since Trump’s poorly-attended inauguration: censoring free speech. The same three or four corporations providing the preponderance of news to the masses will have the authority to put up barriers to sites unwilling to toe the corporate Republican line. This is as frightening an act of censorship that can occur in an allegedly free society and it has nothing whatsoever to do with corporate profits. It is about control.
Consumer groups say broadband companies have been incredibly profitable under the net neutrality rules and have been greatly expanding their networks into new communities and with incredibly faster speeds despite the FCC chairman and telecom industry complaints that rules hamper their businesses.
Businesses such as Amazon and Google that depend on an “open Internet” said the net neutrality rules leveled the playing field for American consumers. Google commented on the FCC move saying the big losers are the consumers; which is the intent of ending net neutrality. In a statement from Google:
“The FCC’s net neutrality rules are working well for consumers, and we’re disappointed in the proposal released today.”
The former head of the FCC, Tom Wheeler, called the move “tragic” and he told Americans to expect the same kind of treatment they complain about from cable providers that will now have no restraints on how they deliver services. Mr. Wheeler said:
“If you like your cable company, you’ll love what this does for the Internet. The job of the FCC is to represent the consumer. Tragically, this decision is only for the benefit of the largely monopoly services that deliver the Internet to the consumer.”
And a former senior advisor at the FCC, Gigi Sohn said:
“Your internet service provider will be free to make online fast lanes and favor the content of its choice. It will take away your control of your internet experience and give it to Comcast, AT&T and Verizon.”
This action by Trump’s FCC is an attack on free speech as well as a back-door corporate censorship of “unfriendly and uncooperative” news sites. Since most Americans refuse to read magazines or newspapers, nearly all of their information comes from corporate broadcast media and if they wanted the truth they went to alternative news sites freely available on the Internet. Now, although those “alternative” news sources might still be allowed to exist, they will cost consumers dearly if they are not banned outright or put out of business paying corporations to keep their sites unblocked.
Trump has made censoring news he doesn’t like a big part of his administration; including recently claiming that networks he doesn’t like should lose their ability to operate. He even wondered why the Federal Communications Commission wasn’t taking action on his behalf. Although he still hasn’t sorted out how to legally criminalize “unfriendly” media, he did the next best thing in using the FCC to give corporations the power to do his bidding.
As more Americans get the preponderance of their news from the Internet these days, this action by Trump’s can only be seen as an FCC an attack on free speech and blatant censorship. It will have an impact on more Americans access to information than if he had just banned print journalism outright.
Although many Americans fail to see just how fascist of a move this horrible FCC announcement was, they will learn soon enough that the free exchange of information in America is on pace to rival North Korea and China; where a powerful ‘central committee’ controls what Internet content its citizens can and cannot see.