Well, as has been warned, the FCC will have a vote on Net Neutrality at the end of next month. And after intense lobbying by Barack Obama, Chairman Tom Wheeler has made it clear that he will pursue Title II Reclassification, a ridiculous power grab favored by the extreme left wing, which would place the Internet under 1930s-era telephone regulations.
However [mc_name name='Sen. John Thune (R-SD)' chamber='senate' mcid='T000250' ] and [mc_name name='Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI)' chamber='house' mcid='U000031' ] are working on a bill that could address all the leftist rhetoric while averting that doomsday scenario of Internet regulation. I hope it goes well.
For an overview of the problems with the radical left wing's ideas on Title II Reclassification, which would effectively undo the light regulatory touch the Internet has had since the bipartisan Telecommunications Act of 1996, Don't Break the Net is a good resource.
In summary though, the plan the far left has is to declare by regulatory fiat that ISPs are no longer information service providers, and so are eligible for a wide range of regulation, including price controls. That extensive regulatory power will then be used to dictate how the Internet should be run, toward an aim of socialized Internet.
Witness the President's speech this week urging 'municipal Internet,' better known as state-run, socialized Internet. The FCC may, again by regulatory fiat, declare that the states are not allowed to prohibit their own cities from implementing socialized Obamanet. It's one power grab after another with these folks.
But Title II Reclassification / Net Neutrality is the greater threat, and that's what Thune and Upton are addressing. We need to see a final bill before we can be sure, but as far as I can tell, their plan is to authorize FCC to do only a very, very narrow 'Net Neutrality' regulation, one that is relatively harmless (by banning things nobody really wanted to do anyway), yet perfectly in keeping with the leftist rhetoric on the issue. In return, we would block the Title II move that is the greatest threat.
Because you see, as Don't Break the Net points out, what the left says on Net Neutrality, and what their proposed plans do, don't really match. So by passing a bill that would put the President on the spot to walk the talk, we could give the left a purely symbolic victory, while we would in substance defang the FCC. Everybody wins but the extremist Robert McChesney left.
Again, we need to see a final bill before we're sure, but I'm optimistic the Thune-Upton plan will probably be one worth passing, as the best we can do with a Democrat in the White House. This isn't about winning, this is about not losing, badly.
Featured Image via Media Freedom, one of the best sites on the Internet for tech policy from a conservative perspective, which is unfortunately all too rare online.