Big cable companies and others seeking to rig the internet, have constantly been trying to monetize and monopolize the internet in such a way, that would allow them to charge a premium for small businesses like law firms and other professionals, in order for them to rank well on the internet. In order to do this, net neutrality rules must be eliminated, or slowly eroded.
What Is Net Neutrality?
Net neutrality has to do with making sure that Internet service providers (ISPs), which include Time Warner Cable, Comcast, Verizon, Cox, AT&T, Charter, Frontier, Suddenlink, CenturyLink etc., serve up all traffic equally without playing favorites between sources of content. What this means to the consumer is that Michael Ehline, or Anthony Castelli can’t pay an ISP to prioritize the traffic and speed of our website traffic streaming into the home or office of an end user. Net neutrality is more or less, about the connection between your ISP and your receiving router and computer. It is also called the “last mile.”
Normally, I would not eagerly support regulation of a business, or government involvement in a man’s business. But this case is a little different and here is why. ISPs aren’t going to offer net neutrality voluntarily. ISPs and the politicians they donate millions to, generally ignore the fact that We the People own the internet. They want to use it as a highway, and they want to have their own private toll booth. Private citizens like you and I already paid for the creation of the internet long ago, which was actually the brainchild of the U.S. Military. (Source.) It belongs to us.
We use it as a vehicle to communicate like buying and selling, build our brands, doing legal research, and many more things than that. There is absolutely no reason to allow anyone, a big company or not,to have the ability to de-facto end our ownership of the net, which is exactly what is happening here.
The Delicate Balance in the Fight for Total Neutrality
How much regulation is necessary? After all, if the net is too neutral, ISPs would become a public utility, which means some government bureaucrat will eventually tax the crap out of it, and play favorites to big party donors who support the public employee unions and their political allies in Washington. This hurts business, and clearly has the ability to chill political speech, as objective people have recently seen with the union run IRS scandal.
At the other side of the spectrum is the “no regulation” argument that allows ISPs to sell traffic and speed priority to the highest bidder. It can also mean exclusivity two or more sources of data in varying degrees of quality and speed. An example would be Media Matters paying AT&T to serve up their website in favor of say, Rush Limbaugh’s, or simply blocking Rush’s site altogether. If Rush is unhappy, he can pay to play as well.
This second option is the option favored by the companies Wheeler has spent his career working for. In either scenario, in this case, the democrat party will win big, but many progressive law firms and attorneys will also lose BIG! Finally, political partisans on both sides are in a position where they will be personally affected in a negative way, and as will be discussed, the ground work is being laid for a bipartisan effort to enforce a balanced neutrality. The end result of too much, or not enough internet regulation, is that Democrats, Republicans and Independents, etc., will be forced to return to the old Yellowpages system. Basically, money, as opposed to good ideas and great service, etc., would be the primary factor of how a business can rank online.
Make no mistake, the elimination of, or shaving of the neutrality regulations will destroy the ability of a small consumer law firm like mine and yours from succeeding in the virtual world. The new proposed FCC rules change will wipe out most of you attorneys, unless you are extremely wealthy. This is the kind of stuff that Thomas Jefferson and our founding fathers argued would take place unless we had an extremely limited central government. But how on earth did we get here? Why are these new rules even being proposed? Follow the money.
Who Is This “Thomas Wheeler” Proposing These Anti Net-Neutrality Regulations at the FCC?
First, a little more history, the president of the United States himself had continually touted that he was pro net neutrality prior to his recent selection of anti net neutrality FCC chief, Thomas Wheeler, a cable TV industry lobbyist! Here is the video of the president saying so himself. (See video here.) Indeed his friends in the mainstream press are still framing this as a decision made by the new FCC head and that the president had nothing to do with it, and that he is still pro net neutrality.
I was a little confused at this, since is is the president himself who picks the heads of administrative agencies like the FCC. So like any good, non partisan attorney who wants to get to the truth, I wanted to understand how a person diametrically opposed to the president’s publicly stated agenda, was picked by the president to head up the FCC. The pertinent information is as follows:
- Former cable industry lobbyist and current FCC Chairman Thomas Wheeler is paving the way for a two-tiered internet system that would no longer require content to be treated equally. (Source.)
- Tuesday the U.S. appeals court ruled against the FCC in a case filed by the former head of the FCC. In that case involving Comcast Corp. and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the appeals court ruled in favor of the cable giant. The FCC, prior to the appointment of its new chief, was arguing Comcast Corp. had overstepped regulations by slowing some internet traffic on its network. The FCC originally had claimed that the cable giant had dealt a blow to large web commerce companies and other proponents of net neutrality. But the newly appointed Obama justices at the the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit three judge panel ruled that the old FCC head had exceeded his authority in sanctioning Comcast Corp. in 2008. (Source.)
- Comcast CEO, Brian L. Roberts, is a golf partner of President Obama’s, and a big time Democratic donor. He has donated thousands of dollars to the president and to the Democratic party, as well as several senate campaigns, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the DNC Services Corporation. He has also donated huge amounts of money to Steny Hoyer, Kirsten Gillibrand, and Bob Casey. “Roberts’s executive vice president, David Cohen, is a former aide to Democratic bigwig Ed Rendell. Cohen is alleged to be skirting lobbying regulations through loopholes, and he has raised more than $2 million for Obama since 2007, and in 2011 hosted a DNC fundraiser at which the president called him “friend.” Cohen has visited the White House 14 times since 2010, including two visits to the Oval Office. He attended the recent dinner for President Hollande of France.The sanction against the cable company was for the deliberate prevention of using peer-to-peer file sharing services for downloading larger files for some subscribers. According to FCC spokeswoman Jen Howard“ (Source.)
With the loss of the former FCC head who was protecting the net neutrality rules, even the seemingly politically charged courts are apparently supporting the abolition of neutrality rules, in favor of big time, billionaire and highly partisan party donors.
The Ensuing Outrage On Both Sides of the Political Spectrum
Conservative and progressive organizations and attorneys alike are outraged at the appointment of Wheeler. It is clear that something smelly is afoot when I find myself, a libertarian leaning patriot, agreeing politically with other Progressive personal injury lawyers like Donald Petersen out in Florida. Why the outrage on both sides, and what are they saying? Why is ending net neutrality as we know it a bad thing? Quoting Luke Ciciliano on Google Plus:
A “non-neutral” web would stifle tech innovation in a big way +Tina Willis. Smaller startups simply wouldn’t be able to serve their products in the way they need to without costs going up substantially. In other words, it makes it harder for the next Google, Facebook, etc. to start in a garage where people have legitimately built a better light bulb. This also potentially impacts attorney marketing for firms that do a lot of web video.” (See more at the hasthag #NetNeutrality – Source.)
Of course from a lawyer’s standpoint who is just starting out, it won’t be like the happy times of the 90’s and up to now. Good luck ever being found online unless you pay to play.
The Outcome of the Push Back by Consumers
Two days ago, I got Google Plus ping from Donald Petersen that there were over 674,000 comments on the FCC consumer website (almost every single one opposes Wheeler. The deadline to comment was actually extended to June 18, 2014. I will discuss where you can comment later in this article. The bottom line, is that once it was discovered that these new rules would be the first major step in ending the control of the internet by We The People, the politicians and bureaucrats seem to have gotten the message that this is dangerous territory.
Yesterday, the 120-day window was kept open for the public to weigh in. But if this recent proposal authored by lobbyist Wheeler is approved, we are toast. Big providers claim they will not use the new rules to block sites and it will not prevent the FCC from having the ability to protect consumers. But I was also promised if I liked my health care plan that I could keep it, and that was patently false.
What You Can Do To Right Now to Stop This!
- First thing you need to do is find out if your local representative voted to allow Wheeler to become the FCC head to begin with and start making calls expressing your intent to not support him or her in the upcoming mid terms. Although this is an administrative agency decision, it is their fault this gentlemen was appointed to begin with.
- GET ON THE FCC WEBSITE and leave a public comment expressing your outrage. The steps are to go here. Keep in mind that the system is overloaded, which is why the FCC extended the deadline for public comments. You have one day left!
- Stop supporting candidates based upon party affiliation, and start voting for candidates who limit themselves to the vision our founders had for this nation.
- Demand that your representatives vote on legislation to hold themselves liable to the laws they pass. Currently, representatives in DC are not bound by insider trading laws, get their own health care plan far superior to the ACA, get lifetime pensions and benefits for serving even a single term. Demand that all politicians are limited to two terms in office. No more lifetime politicians. Our own president’s wealth increased 438% since he took office, while most Americans have been reduced to part time jobs, if they can even find a job, and the wealth of the middle class has decreased over 40% during the same period. (Source.) It is time to stop looking at politicians as Messiahs, and seeing them for what they are, a necessary evil that must be controlled by we the people.
“I prefer the tumult of liberty to the quiet of servitude.” – Thomas Jefferson.
This piece was written by attorney Michael Ehline. To learn more contact him here.
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