This Thursday, the FCC opens up comments on its proposal regulate the online world, possibly including Usenet newsgroups. While no one is quite sure all that it will contain, insiders have pieced together recent FCC filings from Google to outline how Net Neutrality regulations could be part of a grand plan to control how virtually all media enters your home. Here’s a brief summary:
Under the guise of “Net Neutrality” and “consumer protection” the FCC would begin regulating online access in the US for the first time under a completely new regulatory scheme (even though they lack the authority to create it). Meanwhile, the FCC would push regulations – cloaked in the heart-warming language of competition and innovation – mandating that your cable box (known as a set-top box) become a “broadband gateway device” controlling access to your online access, Usenet newsgroups, TV, and phone. The FCC has already started looking at set-top box regulations in their National Broadband Plan.
The legal maneuvering is so tenuous and the desire from left-wing groups so strong that a mere promise to “forbear” from rate setting is certainly no guarantee. On top of this, it would open the door for the FCC to begin monitoring or censoring content on the Internet (in addition to your TV), something Free Press and other progressives, as well as the White House regulatory czar advocate. The Songwriters Guild of America has a great op-ed on why government censorship is entirely possible if the online access becomes regulated.
There are a lot of hurdles for the FCC should they choose this horrendously anti-free market route to take over the nation’s Internet networks and control the flow of media. Already facing severe bipartisan opposition from Congress and the court, the FCC would certainly invite another legal challenge. But if it works, Internet, phone, and TV service will simply become Google Chrome, Android/Google-Voice, and Google TV.