One of America's leading authorities on technology and telecom policy, Motley is a writer, television and radio commentator, political and policy strategist, lecturer, debater, activist, and policy advisor to The Heartland Institute.
Latest posts by Seton Motley (see all)
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We are almost six years into the Barack Obama Administration. This president has been almost undoubtedly the worst ever at exceeding his Constitutional authority.
“A phone and a pen” are not magical – the president still has to adhere to the document to which he swore an oath. If he wants 2014 to be “a year of action,” he needs to find common ground with Congress and sign laws they pass. Not unilaterally jam us with dictatorial fiats.
There have already been too many such power grabs to even contemplate – and there are more, even larger ones coming.
Like, say, commandeering control of the World Wide Web. Behold Title II Reclassification.
The hardcore Media Marxist Left wants President Obama’s Federal Communications Commission to unilaterally change – for the worse – how the government regulates the Internet. Which would be an egregious violation of existing law – the 1996 Telecommunications Act.
This law classified the Internet as Title I – a very light-touch regulatory regime. As happens when the government largely leaves something alone, the Internet has become a free speech, free market Xanadu. Arguably no endeavor in human history has grown so big, so well, so fast.
If ever there was an example of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – this is it. Yet the perpetually broken government is listening to these Leftist loons – and considering the move to Title II.
Title II is the uber-regulatory superstructure with which we have strangled landline phones – you know, that bastion of technological and economic innovation. Which do you find more impressive – your desktop dialer or your iPhone?
Title II regulations date back to the 1930s – so you know they’ll be a perfect fit for the ultra-modern, incredibly dynamic, expanding-like-the-universe World Wide Web.
This would be the most detrimental of all Information Superhighway road blocks. Rather than the omni-directional, on-the-fly innovation that now constantly occurs, Title II is a Mother-May-I-Innovate, top-down traffic congest-er. Imagine taking a 16 lane Autobahn down to just a grass shoulder.
The FCC is looking to do all of this – so as to fabricate the “authority” to then impose Network Neutrality. Net Neutrality is Socialism for the Internet – it guarantees everyone equal amounts of nothing. A proponent explains it thus:
(T)he ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.
How very Hugo Chavez of them. How very Department of Veterans Affairs. I’m fairly sure that’s not what Congress had in mind in 1996. Net Neutrality wasn’t even created as a concept until 2002 – it is utterly absurd to argue the law authorized something that didn’t even yet exist.
Has that stopped the FCC? Of course not. They have already twice imposed it – and twice the D.C. Circuit has unanimously rejected it. The FCC’s response is to now consider a Title II overreach that is light years beyond these previous power grabs.
Ohio Republican Congressman Bob Latta has filed a bill to prevent FCC Reclassification. That his bill is wholly redundant in light of the 1996 Act demonstrates just how far from the Constitution the Leviathan has strayed.
Reclassification is in fact bipartisan in its unpopularity. The FCC considered it in 2010. Seventeen minority groups – that are almost always in Democrat lockstep – were opposed. Many additional normally Democrat paragons were also opposed, including:
- The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)
- The Urban League
- The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC)
- The Minority Media and Telecom Council (MMTC)
- The Sierra Club
- The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO)
- The Communications Workers of America (CWA)
- The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW)
Yet with this near-unanimous cross-section of opposition, with the law and reality all arrayed against them – the FCC presses on to the biggest of all possible Internet power grabs.
The Leviathan is relentless.