Sunday, March 07, 2010

Trying to control the Internet

The government has wanted to control the Internet ever since it began to achieve prominence in American life. It makes the bureaucrats crazy that there is this enormous area of relative freedom that it simply doesn't/can't control. Well, the Federal Communications Commission, the federal government's most prominent organ of censorship -- which wouldn't exist if they took the First Amendment seriously -- is making a bid to do just that. The way it seeks to get the camel's nose under the tent, as this Register editorial explains, is by subsidizing broadband for rural areas. This makes almost no sense as a critical task for the federal government -- broadband is spreading faster than any previous communications technology without "help" from the government. It might never achieve 100% penetration in rural areas, but that's not really the point. The FCC's broadband initiative, which includes not only subsidies for rural broadband -- which will inevitably bring "he who pays the piper" regulations -- but mandates for "net neutrality," a vision of what should be that differs only slightly from what is developing, but that might provide the rationale for more federal regulation.

A free Internet is one of the great achievements of our time. It would be tragic if the feds started regulating it; you know regulation would increase. I'm a little surprised that more Netizens aren't expressing alarm at the FCC's power play.


Anonymous said...

The powers that be FEAR the internet.

Alan Bock said...

You bet they do!