Today’s vote by a bitterly divided Federal Communications Commission that the Internet should be regulated as a public utility is the culmination of a decade-long battle by the Left. Using money from George Soros and liberal foundations that totaled at least $196 million, radical activists finally succeeded in ramming through “net neutrality,” or the idea that all data should be transmitted equally over the Internet. The final push involved unprecedented political pressure exerted by the Obama White House on FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, head of an ostensibly independent regulatory body.“Net neutrality’s goal is to empower the federal government to ration and apportion Internet bandwidth as it sees fit, and to thereby control the Internet’s content,” says Phil Kerpen, an anti-net-neutrality activist from the group American Commitment. The courts have previously ruled the FCC’s efforts to impose “net neutrality” out of bounds, so the battle isn’t over. But for now, the FCC has granted itself enormous power to micromanage the largely unrestrained Internet.But for now, the “media reform” movement led by McChesney and his allies can claim bragging rights for their Saul Alinsky–style outflanking maneuver on Internet regulation. They financed the research behind the idea, installed their political allies in power, got the government to consider them experts on the issues they cared deeply about, and finally ran roughshod over both Congress and an initially reluctant FCC chairman. Conservatives should study how the Left won on this issue even as they acknowledge and fight the illegitimacy of many of the results.
Category Archives: Technology
“Net neutrality” has nothing to do with neutrality: It has to do with who is going to prevent Comcast from doing bad things. (By the way, when I say “Comcast,” I mean Time-Warner and all the other pestiferous cable companies, too.) This is the “shiny object” they want to mesmerize you with—this fury at the cable companies—so you won’t dig too deeply into what they’re trying to do.
Make no mistake: the benign term “net neutrality” is camouflage for a far less innocent meaning: Government regulation of the Internet. (No, you don’t need to know the intricacies of Title II and all that, you just need to know that government will be assuming the power to run things.) You might think that’s a good thing, or you might think it’s a bad thing, or you might even think the government won’t screw around even when it has the power to do so, but before we can move on we need to be honest in calling it what it is: Essentially a governmental putsch of the Internet.
Once we know what it is, you can decide whether you like it or not.
Comcast will be answerable to somebody: They would prefer it to be the government. That’s because dealing with the government is a lot easier than dealing with the marketplace—at least if you have the kind of machine in place that Comcast does. Also, the government can ensure your survival even if you treat your customers like vermin, while, if left to the devices of the marketplace, your survival might be in question.
Cars Are Delivering Tons Of Driving Data To Manufacturers With Minimal Security And Even Less Transparency
Nothing’s driving the acquisition of data faster than, well, driving. As new technology makes its way into vehicles, so does the apparent desire to harvest information about the vehicle itself. Between the outside harvesting (automatic plate readers that gather plate/location data, as well as photos of vehicle occupants) and the “inside” transmissions, there’s very little any number of unknown entities won’t know about a person’s driving habits. And that’s not even including what’s transmitted and collected by drivers’ omnipresent smartphones and their installed apps.
Sen. Edward Markey has expressed some alarm at the amount of data being collected (and distributed) by vehicle manufacturers. His office has produced a report [pdf link] showing that while many manufacturers are involved in collecting data, very few of them seem concerned about the attendant risks. Even worse, many respondents to his office’s questionnaire seem to show very little understanding of the underlying technology and most have not made an effort to fully inform customers as to how much is being collected or how it’s being distributed.
Drivers of today’s connected cars aren’t going to like the report’s findings.
Nearly 100% of cars on the market include wireless technologies that could pose vulnerabilities to hacking or privacy intrusions.
While some basic security measures have been implemented, the fact remains that transmitting data always poses a risk. Three of the 14 manufacturers that responded to Markey’s questions had actually let their security measures stagnate or decrease from 2013 to 2014, even as the amount of data transmitted rose. Worse, many of the respondents deployed security measures in a “haphazard and inconsistent” fashion, and nearly all respondents seemed unable to fully process the questions posed by Markey’s office.
FCC commissioner Ajit Pai said President Barack Obama is about to succeed in his attempt to take “alarmingly unprecedented direct involvement” into the FCC’s plan to regulate the internet, which he explained will mean “billions of dollars in new taxes,” slower broadband speeds and “less competition.”
Discussing the plan that the FCC has refused to let the public see Pai said, “Unfortunately it looks like the cake has been baked. President Obama gave his direction to the FCC in back in early November and lo and behold, the FCC majority has put together President Obama’s plan for Internet regulation. And it looks to be posed pass it on a 3-to-2 vote.”
When asked if the president’s move was an “alarmingly unprecedented direct involvement,” into FCC, Pai agreed, explaining the FCC has been an independent agency since 1934, he said, “When you have a politician shortly after the midterm election deciding to direct the agency to do x, y, z and telling us he wants us to use a particular legal theory to do it you’re in uncharted territory, at least in my experience. I think compromising the independence of the agency is bad enough, but especially when it involves the government control the Internet. That is just a dangerous road for us to travel on.”
Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) explained in November the Treasury Inspector General reported that it had recovered almost 80,000 missing emails from the seized IRS disaster recovery tapes. Upon investigation it was found approximately 80 percent are duplicates, which leaves roughly 16,000 recovered, unique Lois Lerner emails.
The Wisconsin senator promised “a number of committees,” working together will spend the next couple of month “sorting through” the emails to “piece together this plot.”
Johnson said, “This administration has been completely opaque. But that’s one question. Who was communicating with Lois Lerner? What emails were exchanged with the White House or Treasury department? That’s what we are trying to get to the bottom of.”
He added, “I smell a rat. I smell a number of rats, and that’s what we are going to get to the bottom of.”
Claiming that thousands of public comments condemning “dark money” in politics can’t be ignored, the Democrat-chaired Federal Election Commission on Wednesday appeared ready to open the door to new regulations on donors, bloggers and others who use the Internet to influence policy and campaigns.
During a broad FEC hearing to discuss a recent Supreme Court decision that eliminated some donor limits, proponents encouraged the agency to draw up new funding disclosure rules and require even third-party internet-based groups to reveal donors, a move that would extinguish a 2006 decision to keep the agency’s hands off the Internet.
Noting the 32,000 public comments that came into the FEC in advance of the hearing, Democratic Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub said, “75 percent thought that we need to do more about money in politics, particularly in the area of disclosure. And I think that’s something that we can’t ignore.”
But a former Republican FEC chairman said in his testimony that if the agency moves to regulate the Internet, including news voices like the Drudge Report as GOP commissioners have warned, many thousands more comments will flood in in opposition of regulation.
“If you produce a rule that says we are going to start regulating this stuff, including the internet and so on, I think you will see a lot more than 32,000 comments come in and I don’t think staff will analyze them and find that 75 percent are favorable to more regulation,” said Bradley Smith, now with the Center for Competitive Politics.
Why did Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler decide to embrace the idea of regulating the Internet like a utility?
He says it’s because he saw that the wireless industry had thrived under similar regulation. But as a report in today’s Wall Street Journal makes abundantly clear, it was really a response to pressure from the White House, which effectively ran a shadow FCC.
As the folks at TechFreedom point out, Wheeler has now reversed himself on a number of issues related to net neutrality in order to align with the preferred position of the White House.
Technically, the FCC is an independent agency charged with making its own decisions on such matters. But the Journal‘s report, and Wheeler’s multiple reversals, suggest that in practice, it is instead acting as a direct extension of the White House, proposing policy changes that the agency’s chairman would not have supported without unusual and aggressive prodding from the administration.
The parameters of digital addiction are not defined, but digital addictions are similar to behavioral addictions like compulsive gambling.
Kuss says there’s evidence that Internet addiction can alter brain chemistry.
When the brain experiences something pleasant — for example, winning a video game — the good feelings come from a rush of dopamine, she said. When someone becomes addicted to the activity, neural receptors in the brain become flooded with dopamine and essentially turn off, leading the addict to seek out those feelings aggressively.
When the activity is cut off, it takes time for the receptors to wake up, resulting in depression, mood swings or sleep deprivation. Doan says science needs to classify different kinds of media based on what he calls “digital potency.”
“You don’t see people getting addicted to PowerPoint,” Doan said. “Our challenge is to figure out how potent something like Facebook is compared to something like gaming.”
When the new Congress shows up on Tuesday, it’s going to have lots to worry about, but there’s one serious problem at risk of being overlooked. And that really can’t be allowed to happen; it’s much too important:
In 2015, the Obama administration plans to hand over control of ICANN — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers — to international governance. ICANN oversees the superstructure of the Internet, and the American Department of Commerce oversees ICANN. The plan for handing our authority to the global community would mean oversight by censors and despots in China, Russia, and Iran.
Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is steeped in naïveté. He’s done irreparable damage in Cuba, where the Castros were on their last legs. He’s done irreparable damage in the Middle East, where defeat was snatched from the jaws of Iraqi victory, and where lifting sanctions saved Iran’s foundering economy. He’s done irreparable damage in East Asia by genuflecting to Beijing’s dictators. He’s done irreparable damage in Europe by scrapping the Czech–Polish missile-defense system and gift-wrapping the Crimea. This fait-accompli phone-and-pen nonsense is incredibly serious.
But this time, Congress has advance warning. And it knows what’s at stake. If it does nothing, it will have done irreparable damage to the freedom of everyone who uses or is affected by the Internet. Which is to say, everyone. It will be Congress’s fault.