Editorial: FCC’s overreach with net neutrality
December 14, 2017
We have all discovered if you want to do something done correctly, don't depend on the government's rickety train of red tape to bring you easy decisions to complex issues.
Need we say any more, especially when Americans debate the merits of affordable health care or look for solutions to resolve the quagmire affecting scores of the nation's VA facilities and the veterans they serve.
Now, the Federal Communications Commission would like to overturn net neutrality, which was passed by the commission in 2015. Many Internet users from all political persuasions are expressing guarded feelings that this decision could lead to another federal government boondoggle. We may be right if we see rates go up if the FCC has its way.
Removing net neutrality from the Internet is no different than what occurred prior to the breakup of AT&T in the 1980s. For decades, AT&T was the dominant phone provider, and without viable competition, consumers paid higher rates. The breakup of the AT&T monopoly led to more competition and eventually to a freer market place when the amount on the monthly bill declined.
The Online News Association and four journalism organizations are urging to the FCC to end its push toward ending net neutrality. Two national community newspaper associations, which represent many weekly newspapers in "Red" states and counties are also skeptical about the FCC removing net neutrality.
In Nevada, not all communities and counties are wired as effectively as Washoe, Clark and Churchill counties, for example. According to the ONA, "the FCC is now speeding toward repealing those very net neutrality rules before the end of this year. Such a repeal would allow Internet service providers to 'block, speed up or slow down websites, applications, and services; charge online companies for access to an ISP's customers and block those that don't pay; and to enter into deals with online companies to put them in a fast lane to the ISP's customers."
The larger companies such as Google and Facebook will be able to absorb higher toll charges imposed by the FCC, but smaller or upstart companies may struggle to meet the new monetary demands, thus limiting what we can see on the Internet.
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Limiting access for all Americans runs counter to the 30-year history of the public Internet, says the ONA. Polls show more than 60 percent of the public supports net neutrality, but researchers also discovered that millions of comments — many of them with Russian email addresses urging the FCC to eliminate net neutrality — were fake.
What's disturbing about the FCC's change of heart to eliminate net neutrality is a 180-degree about face from the GOP principles. With the FCC scheduled to vote on removing net neutrality at their monthly meeting on Thursday, we need our congressional representatives to demand the FCC take more time to look at this issue and hold hearings with the general public from all sections of the country.
Perhaps the current majority on the FCC board needs to remember the words of President Ronald Reagan.
"In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem."
Editorials appear on Wednesdays.