Trump’s FCC Attack On Net Neutrality Is Fascist Censorship

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 “neutraland 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.

Image: HuffPo

Congress to Criminalize Speech Not Supporting Israeli Aggression

 

As some Americans may be aware, the nation of Israel has proceeded with an expanding occupation of Palestinian territories that America tacitly supports while the rest of the civilized world is appalled at the inhumane actions. And, in this particular crusade, inhumane is a gross understatement.

Since America under Trump refuses to pressure Israel into joining the civilized world and stop its encroachment and terrorizing of the Palestinian people, the rest of the world is engaged in a campaign known as BDS to encourage Israel through economic sanctions to change its aggressive  and inhumane ways. Remember, it was just recently that America warned the United Nations Human Rights Commission that if it did not stop, immediately, criticizing Israel for terrorizing the Palestinians, Trump’s America would leave the organization. Trump’s America loves aggression towards innocent and defenseless Muslim populations.

Now, members of Congress are working for Israel to eliminate the First Amendment’s Freedom of Speech provisions for any American who dares support the world’s attempt to bring Israel into compliance with civilized society. The bill currently before Congress is an Israeli-inspired response to any American who supports, calls for, or requests information about the BDS campaign to put economic pressure on Israel “to withdraw from lands it occupied in 1967, end its [illegal] occupation of Palestinian territories, dismantle its illegal settlements in the West Bank, and allow Palestinians in exile to return to their homeland.”

BDS stands for “boycott, divest, and sanction” Israel for its unrelenting militaristic expansion into Palestine. Instead of using their “freedom of speech” to convince other Americans why Republicans think economic sanctions against Israel’s occupation and encroachment is wrong, and why Israel’s takeover of Palestinian land is godly and right, members of Congress supporting the bill want to criminalize opposing views – by abolishing any speech not supporting Israel’s illegal expansion into Palestine.

The so-called “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” is legislation that:

Prohibits Americans from requesting the imposition of any boycott by a foreign country against a country which is friendly to the United States and from supporting any boycott fostered or imposed by an international organization [United Nations], or requesting imposition of any such boycott, against Israel.”

That patently unconstitutional bill prompted the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) to send a letter to Congress demanding a halt to legislation “denying freedom of speech” to any American advocating for, or simply “requesting information about,” any kind of boycott of Israel.

If any American does exercise their right to free speech, the bill calls for penalties  including up to “20 years in prison and fines between $250,000 and $1 million;” simply  for advocating for, or even requesting information about, a boycott of the state of Israel.

Some Americans might recall that Republicans went ballistic over an attempt to overturn Citizens United they claimed was a dirty filthy un-American attack on the First Amendment’s free speech provision. In Republicans’ minds, free speech is sacrosanct and cannot be challenged if the speech is in the form of tens-of-millions of corporate dollars for Republican candidates, but it is punishable by serious terms in federal prison and ungodly fines if the speech entails calling for sanctions against Israel.

The bill’s sponsors epitomize hypocrisy on free speech. For example, in 2014 Ted Cruz (R-TX) railed against attempts to overturn Citizens United saying:

“Typically, when Americans hear that members of the Senate are proposing repealing the free speech protections of the First Amendment, the usual reaction is a gasp of disbelief. Could we really have entered a world so extreme that our common ground no longer even includes the First Amendment of the Constitution?”

And in a Wall Street Journal op-ed Cruz wrote:

Speech is more than just standing on a soap box yelling on a street corner. For centuries the Supreme Court has rightly concluded that free speech includes writing and distributing pamphlets, putting up billboards, displaying yard signs, launching a website, and running radio and television ads.”

One of Cruz’s Texas cohorts, Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, said:

I guarantee that none of my constituents suggested we need to repeal the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.” And then he claimed the overturn Citizens United amendment was:

A vote to silence them. Tell them to sit down, be quiet, we are in charge and in control.”

Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) is also a co-sponsor of the bill to muzzle citizens’ voices and in 2015 joined Cruz and Hatch in railing against overturning Citizens United on Free Speech grounds. He said:

Supporters of this radical proposal apparently believe that freedom itself is the problem. That view is contrary to the most fundamental principles of this republic, and incompatible with a free society. Freedom is not the problem, it is the solution.”

Republican Senator Pat Roberts (KS) concurred with Cruz, Hatch, and Cornyn that overturning Citizens United was an attack on free speech and added that it was an assault on democracy. He said:

In our system of government, all voices have the right to be heard. The First Amendment gives them that right. … We have a system that allows all voices to be heard, even those that oppose the majority. That is not the antithetical to democracy; it is the essence of democracy. So it is time, it seems to me, to stop pretending that allowing more voices to be heard somehow poses a danger just because we don’t like what they are saying.”

Another Republican attacking the attempt to overturn Citizens United, Senator Deb Fischer (NE) actually told her Senate colleagues that:

Over the preceding five weeks visiting constituents, not a single Nebraskan told me to go back to Washington and vote to limit free speech.” She said overturning Citizens United was “gutting the First Amendment and the principles of free speech that have endured since the Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791.” And that “it would actually diminish democratic participation and decrease freedom.”

 Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA) complained that overturning Citizens United was tantamount to:

Amending the Bill of Rights. It would amend one of the most important of those rights — the right of free speech. The First Amendment provides that Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech.”

Of course Grassley is right; the First Amendment does indeed provide that “Congress shall make no law abridging free speech.” And yet that is precisely what he and the other four co-sponsors of the “Israel Anti-Boycott Act” are calling for because their loyalty to Israel’s inhumanity supersedes their phony respect for the First Amendment.

There are really two lessons for Americans here. First, Republicans only care about the Constitution, or the Bill of Rights, when it serves their purposes. And second, that they have no qualms severely punishing Americans who exercise their First Amendment freedom of speech by daring to oppose Israeli aggression against Palestinians.