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Internet freedom was once a decades-long, bipartisan consensus. In 1996, President Bill Clinton and a Republican Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996, stating that the United States would “preserve the vibrant and competitive free market that presently exists for the Internet . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.”
Net neutrality passed under former Democrat Tom Wheeler’s FCC in 2010. The rule, known as the Open Internet Order, reclassified the internet as a public monopoly. Critics chided the rule, stating that it would diminish the freedom of the internet. Proponents argue that the regulations prevent Internet service providers from discriminating against content providers.
Breitbart News asked the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai in an exclusive interview why he thinks that net neutrality is a problem, and why we must eliminate the rule. He said:
Number one there was no problem to solve, the internet wasn’t broken in 2015. In that situation, it doesn’t seem me that preemptive market-wide regulation is necessary. Number two, even if there was a problem, this wasn’t the right solution to adopt. These Title II regulations were inspired during the Great Depression to regulate Ma Bell which was a telephone monopoly. And the broadband market we have is very different from the telephone market of 1934. So, it seems to me that if you have 4,462 internet service providers and if a few of them are behaving in a way that is anticompetitive or otherwise bad for consumer welfare then you take targeted action to deal with that. You don’t declare the entire market anticompetitive and treat everyone as if they are a monopolist.
Going forward we are going to propose eliminating that Title II classification and figure out the right way forward. The bottom line is, everyone agrees on the principles of a free and open internet what we disagree with is how many regulations are needed to preserve the internet.
During the Chairman’s speech announcing his proposal to end net neutrality, he referenced Robert McChesney, the founder of Free Press, and his group’s wish for the government to monopolize the internet. Pai explained that McChesney openly bragged about taking over the internet. He said, “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But, the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”
Robert McChesney even said, “In the end, there is no real answer but to remove brick by brick the capitalist system itself, rebuilding the entire society on socialist principles.”
To put McChesney’s influence on net neutrality in context, he was cited 46 times in the Obama net neutrality order.
Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), Senator John Thune (R-SD), Congressman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), and Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) released a statement supporting Chairman Pai’s proposal to rescind Net Neutrality regulations. The statement read:
We have long said that imposing a Depression-era, utility-style regulatory structure onto the internet was the wrong approach, and we applaud Chairman Pai’s efforts to roll back these misguided regulations. Consumers want an open internet that doesn’t discriminate on content and protects free speech and consumer privacy. It’s now time for Republicans and Democrats, internet service providers, edge providers, and the Internet community as a whole to come together and work toward a legislative solution that benefits consumers and the future of the internet.
Pai explained that many liberal organizations, such as Free Press, and government officials hold disdain for free speech. Chairman Pai pointed out:
It’s hard to predict, although the very same people that want the government to regulate the internet and they are fundamentally hostile to free speech in a variety of different ways. They want unpopular views to be censored online; they don’t stand up to the bullies on college campuses who even violently of late resist against people, including Berkeley which is ironic that it was supposedly the birth of the free speech movement. There are some members of government who want to regulate online platforms, I mentioned in the speech that some of the Federal Election Commission members, for instance, want to restrict political speech and regulate online platforms like the Drudge Report. It seems the worst thing we want is to restrict that core value of the First Amendment to discuss political issues and if anything, else that’s exactly what the Founders had in mind when they enshrined the First Amendment in the Bill of Rights. They want people to express themselves in terms of political opinions.
Net neutrality protesters, in advance of Thursday’s FCC meeting, held signs arguing that they should ban conservative publications such as Breitbart, Infowars, and the Drudge Report.
— Sean Moran (@SeanMoran3) May 18, 2017
Ahead of the meeting’s the chairman published the entire text of the proposal to restore internet freedom. The 2015, 313-page net neutrality order was only published after the Commission passed the regulations.
Chairman Pai has argued that a legislative solution would end the political uncertainty of internet regulation.
He said, “I think the best solution would be for Congress to tell us what they want the rules of the road to be for the FCC and the country when it comes to the digital world. Part of the problem is that we are consistently looking at 1934 laws and 1996 laws then we try to shoehorn our modern marketplace to some of those paradigms that frankly we didn’t anticipate a marketplace as dynamic as the internet. I really think that Congress, ideally looking at all the opinions, and all the constituencies they can come to a consensus. Because again as Commissioner O’Reilly pointed out we don’t want the regulatory winds to keep shifting every four or eight years we want to provide some level of consistency to the marketplace so that consumers and companies alike can enjoy the digital revolution.”
Chairman Pai previously said that the internet prospered before net neutrality was enacted. Pai said, “The internet is the greatest free market success in American history.”