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FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content -- The beginning of a shakedown?

It is one thing for The Federal Communications Commission to fulfill its  historical mandate to regulate the broadcast spectrum to insure that frequencies were fairly allocated, interference between adjacent frequencies was minimized, manufacturers of electrical goods upheld non-interference standards and that repairmen and operators of broadcast equipment were duly licensed. But it is quite another thing for a politicalized agency of the Administration to assume control over content.

Somewhere in the  murky past, politicians felt that it was their duty to regulate the airwaves to protect “decent” people from obscenity and harmful information. Further down the line, the breached the First Amendment and dictated that the stations under their control needed to present “fair and balanced” coverage so that each position was effectively countered with a counter-position.

Threatened by the government …

There is no doubt in my mind that the Federal Communications has far transcended their original duties and has been  hyper-politicalized to the point where lobbyists and other special interests receive a more receptive hearing than do individual concerned citizens.

Therefore, I take it as a threat against the First Amendment when I hear anybody claim that the Federal Communications Commission could find themselves with jurisdiction over Internet content if they are forced to rule of such subjects as net neutrality.

My warning to the Federal Communications Commission …

If you persist in challenging the First Amendment, there is the possibility that the entire Internet community will simply rise up in rebellion demanding that all Federal Communications Commissioners who voted to regulate Internet content be fired and that the agency be restricted to its former duties as the keeper of the broadcast spectrum technical operations.

Politicians have seen the power of the Internet to raise funds and change the tenor of the political debate in America. Organizations such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation (www.eff.org) have both the technical and legal expertise at their command to mount a serious challenge to any proposed FCC ruling. 

An FCC Commissioner speaks …

According to Business & Media Institute …

“There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all-but destroy the industry due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the Internet and ‘government dictating content policy.’”

“FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain Internet practices – expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks.”

“The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of ‘a few isolated conservative’ who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.”

“’I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,’ McDowell said. ‘I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem.’”

“Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called ‘Fairness Doctrine,’ which won’t be called that – it’ll be called something else,’ McDowell said. ‘So, will Web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their Web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?’”

“McDowell told BMI the Fairness Doctrine isn’t currently on the FCC’s radar. But a new administration and Congress elected in 2008 might renew Fairness Doctrine efforts, but under another name.”

The “Net Neutrality” issue is easy to understand …

Do you want the common carriers, such as the telephone and cable companies, adopting the current slice-and-dice method of charging you for Internet access and also for the type and amount of content transmitted? Think current telephone rates, with their introductory rates and multiple special prices, are confusing. That’s exactly what these common carriers want: to be able to complete on chaos with the profit being assured by the consumer’s ignorance and lack of ability to sift through thousands of choices to select an appropriate plan. Or, at the very worst, a “bundled” plan which maximized the common carriers’ profits for each service while being portrayed as a “great deal” for the consumer.

The implied threat: it’s a tradeoff …

Allow the common carriers to perform deep packet inspection and charge by traffic type or face greater regulation by the Federal Communications Commission and the possibility of content rules and regulations.

Bottom line: it’s our airwaves and our Internet …

Say “NO” to both choices. These people are elected to serve the public, not screw the consumer on behalf of special interests rich enough to buy politicians.

There is no need to enable the current crop of middlemen: such as the recording and motion picture industry to continue to ride roughshod over the technology which confers so much personal and professional advantage to the ordinary American. These are the groups that are crippling digital records, demanding special enhancements to prevent so-called piracy and have been collecting royalties on each blank media sold to the public. These are the very same people who have avoided releasing public domain works into the public by demanding that the breaking of an electronic wrapper be made a criminal act; although the material protected by the wrapper is in the public domain.

Now is the time to become more aware of your rights and responsibilities as an American citizen, lest they fall by the wayside; done in by unintelligible bureaucratic hanky-panky.

What can YOU do?

Let your elected officials and the candidates for office know that you want “net neutrality” as well as your First Amendment rights when it comes to the control of content on your own sites.

Resolve to mount a strong defense to political efforts to control the Internet: in the United States and elsewhere. The Internet was born of the contributions of free thinkers, subsidized by the government (the people) and should remain free. We all pay for our own computers, Internet connections and preparation of our own content. Major content providers pay to place their content on the Internet. There is no reason why the public should enable anyone to serve as a toll-booth or gate-keeper charging for the privilege of being a man in the middle.

Join an organized group that will support your cause. I can think of no finer group that the Electronic Frontier Foundation which supports both net neutrality and First Amendment free speech.

Vote for the candidate who will exert the least amount of control over your lives and not try to turn the trials and tribulations of everyday living into profit- or tax-generating opportunities to enrich the politicians and their special interests.

View the the democrats, especially the far-left liberal democrats with suspicion. For these are the people who are trying to use our own rules, regulations and laws against us for their own purposes. In this particular case, stifling the dissent which is spread by both talk radio and the Internet; much to their chagrin.

-- steve

Quote of the day: “Advertising is the modern substitute for argument; its function is to make the worse appear the better.” -- George Santayana

A reminder from OneCitizenSpeaking.com: a large improvement can result from a small change…

The object in life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane. -- Marcus Aurelius

Reference Links:

FCC Commissioner: Return of Fairness Doctrine Could Control Web Content


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