The Net Neutrality policy proposed by the Obama White House is set for a vote by the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on Thursday.
The President has not been quiet about pushing for internet legislation. On the campaign trail he made many statements like; “I will not take a back seat to anyone in my commitment to net neutrality.”
The internet legislation policy will encompass three key positions. First the government wants to make sure everyone has access to the internet and have set aside $7.2 billion in stimulus dollars for construction.
The White House is treating the internet as another entitlement program that every taxpayer should pay into so all residents can log on, explains Phil Kerpen of the Americans for Prosperity. One of the new rules proposes the government lays broadband cable in rural communities making access to the internet much easier for all Americans.
This will not only be tricky, but very expensive because there are not enough subscribers in rural areas to pay for the hundreds of miles of cable that must be put in place.
Providing internet access for all residents would be a first for the country. In the past, government didn’t ensure every citizen had a radio during World War II, or televisions in the 1950s or even cable in the 1980s.
The second platform is social justice or classic redistribution of wealth.
And finally the third is controlling internet content. The accessibility of the internet has provided U.S. residents the ability to pursue their freedom of speech in larger numbers and level the playing field.
However, in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, Susan Crawford, Obama’s internet czar, explained the government’s first move to control internet service comes with the release of $7.2 billion in the stimulus money. “This is just a down payment on the government’s investment in the internet,” she said.
Many on the right think these new rules would kill the free-market economy and turn away any incentive for online entrepreneurs to start up new businesses.
One final thought worth pointing out is the government’s rational in tying the use of cell phones into the internet. Providers like AT&T and Verizon don’t see the need for additional regulation and contend the added regulation could slow their service and lead to more taxes.
"The bar needs to be set very high when it comes to additional government intervention," said USTelecom, the phone industry's lobbying group.
The vote on Thursday, which is expected to pass, will set up a show down between providers and the government. Once the provision is passed it will give the FCC the ability to begin formulating rules and readying them for the legislative process.
The following are some of the FCC's proposed rules:
• Consumers are entitled to access any legal Internet content
• Consumers are entitled to use any Internet applications or services
• Consumers are entitled to connect to any devices that won't harm the network
• The same rules apply to cable/DSL and wireless Internet
• Internet providers can't block or slow competitors' online services
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