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.
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We less government types want less government – for no shortage of reasons. To name but a few:
Of course the Constitution mandates it.
In no small part because government is awful at everything it does – so you want it doing as little as possible.
And the more government does – the more susceptible it is to being bribed into applying its might in the service of outside cronies. Favoring them – and hounding their competitors.
Which violates the Constitution’s Fourteenth Amendment – and it’s Equal Protection Clause: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”
The Constitution thus bans cronyism. You can’t have a law, regulation or rule apply to someone – unless it applies to everyone.
The Barack Obama Administrations spent eight years in flagrant violation of the Equal Protection Clause. They were the Crony Administration. And one of the Administration’s last acts – was cronyism on stilts.
On the way out the door, Obama’s Federal Communications Commission (FCC) jammed through a massive new power grab – which changed the rules on data collection and sales. But only for Internet Service Providers (ISPs) (like Comcast and Verizon) – for whom data sales is but a tiny fraction of their business model and income.
Left unmolested by the Obama grab were “edge providers” – like Google and Facebook. Google and Facebook have built a $1+ trillion combined market cap – almost exclusively via the collection and sale of data. That’s really all they do – to have compiled those massive piles of cash. And Obama’s grab didn’t touch them.
This would be like the National Football League (NFL) ignoring the clock-hogging offenses and defenses – and imposing a rule reducing the amount of time kickers can spend on the field.
God bless the Republican Congress and the Donald Trump Administration – who combined to immediately undo this massive Obama cronyism.
And of course the pro-government, pro-cronyism pawns went nuts.
Virtually no mention – anywhere in the thousands of stories this move generated – that massive data sellers like Google and Facebook were utterly unaffected.
Flash forward…about four months. Tennessee Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn introduces her BROWSER Act (Balancing the Rights of Web Surfers Equally and Responsibly). Which is a privacy bill that targets…all data collectors equally:
“(T)he FCC focused on only one part of the Internet eco-system and ignored edge provider services that collect as much, if not more data, than ISPs. The government should not pick winners and losers when it comes to the privacy of Americans. This bill creates a level and fair privacy playing field by bringing all entities that collect and sell the personal data of individuals under the same rules. We look forward to working with our Democratic colleagues on this important initiative.”
Blackburn’s being kind – the likes of Google and Facebook collect and sell EXPONENTIALLY more data than the likes of Comcast and Verizon. Orders of magnitude more.
Now, I am not a fan of this bill – because I am not a fan of government trying to save us from ourselves. You’ve heard of “caveat emptor” – “let the buyer beware.” I also like “et cavete a user” – “let the user beware.”
We’re adults. Hundreds of millions of us have obviously made the trade-off decision – to swap our data for cheaper or free Internet stuff. If enough of us decide we want our privacy better protected – companies offering better protection will become a much bigger share of the market than the tiny sliver they currently possess.
(I don’t use Google for anything – at all. For a variety of reasons – including this. But I much prefer the unfettered-by-government freedom to choose.)
While not of the bill, I am a huge fan of the concept of our elected members of Congress addressing these sorts of things – rather than unelected bureaucrats in unaccountable agencies.
And I am a HUGE fan of the utter, whiplash-inducing hypocrisy the bill elicits. The same people that freaked out about the crony Obama regulations being repealed – are angry at Blackburn for attempting to apply the law equally to everyone.
Yes, how dare it also apply to Google and Facebook.
No, she wants an Equal Protection law – to replace an unequal crony unilateral power grab. Not at all the same thing.
And of course….
Statement On The BROWSER Act: “Internet Association (IA) Vice President of Public Affairs & Communications Noah Theran issued the following statement on the BROWSER Act: ‘We, along with a broad swath of the American economy, are aware of the BROWSER Act and are tracking the proposal. This bill has the potential to upend the consumer experience online and stifle innovation.”
Who makes up the Internet Association? Oh look – Google, Facebook and oh-so-many of the other edge providers – to whom the Obama privacy regulations didn’t apply.
And it’s funny: What the IA said about Blackburn’s bill – is EXACTLY what we less government types said about the Obama privacy power grab. And the Obama Network Neutrality power grab. And all the other Obama power grabs – and government meddling generally – on the Web and everywhere else.
More government – does in fact “upend the consumer experience…and stifle innovation.”
Yet all of the IA members LOVED all of those Obama Internet power grabs. Because those grabs not only didn’t apply to them – they outright gave them huge, unfair, unequal advantages.
Those grabs – were all anti-Equal Protection cronyism on stilts.
Hey Google and Facebook: It ain’t nearly as much fun when the too-much-government applies to you, is it?
[Originally Published at RedState]