It appears likely that the Republican controlled House and the Democrat controlled Senate will battle over the Federal Communications Commission’s Net Neutrality order. It sounds entertaining, but we shouldn’t expect that it will benefit us.
Last Friday we covered the Republican vote that blocked funding of Net Neutrality; there is every reason to believe that there is going to be a "political battle of will" between the House and Senate. The Democrat controlled Senate will try and craft their own bill to fund Net Neutrality and counter the House Republicans’ block of it. Both parties seem ready to take a hard stance on their philosophical beliefs about the Internet.
If the Senate tries to craft a bill to fund the FCC’s Net Neutrality order then you can bet that the corporations who want control over the Internet will pump lots of money into a campaign to fight it.
There is also another factor, Senator Maria Cantwell’s (D-Wash.) bill, the Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011. Cantwell introduced this bill as a response to the flaws she sees in the current version of the Net Neutrality rules. The bill would make Net Neutrality rules apply to wireless as well.
Even if the Democrats are able to win this battle and get Net Neutrality passed that doesn’t mean we will be free from censorship on the Internet. This is the type of thing we always get from politicians. We get big talk and tired rhetoric.
And when some of the more powerful and well known politicians talk, they talk, in an eerily hypnotizing cadence. That’s their job though, to talk to us a lot without actually saying anything meaningful. I feel like the conflict over the free and open nature of the Internet is something they are turning into a well-crafted ruse.
The politicians who represent us don’t really take our opinions into consideration. The majority of them take their orders from their party leaders and big corporations. These groups work together to get themselves a larger piece of the pie and more political power.
The fact that a free and open Internet is one of the most important issues facing our society means nothing to our government representatives. They famously showed us with Wikileaks that they will do whatever it takes to ban they speech they dislike the most. With a few simple phone calls Wikileaks was able to be taken offline.
The most recent proof that the government wants total control over the Internet was the recent takedown of 84,000 sites that we covered. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security's Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) says the sites were taken down to fight kiddie porn peddlers.
The overwhelming majority of the sites that were taken down had nothing to do with child porn. This huge "mistake" seems more like a test run to gauge public response to a Kill Switch than an accident. Though I obviously could never prove that I’m confident other people are as skeptical as I am.
The battle for the free exchange of information over the Internet will likely be an amusing public spectacle for the masses to digest. If Senate Democrats are able to pass a Net Neutrality bill that forces big telecommunications companies to be good, it doesn’t mean we can rest easy knowing that digital free speech is safe.
Our Constitutional rights are absolute and they should apply to the digital realm. Governments and big corporations have shown us that they will have centralized control over the Internet and there is reason to think that they will generously give that control to us.
The coming Net Neutrality battle will be good fodder for Fox News and MSNBC, but it won’t do anything for the people who want their right to freely exchange information protected.