More Mutterings About Controlling the Internet
Yes, yes, yes, I know, no one believes me when I say that one day we're going to lose the internet. But it's interesting--no matter how much the pernicious idea is poo-pooed, it just won't go away. People in authority keep floating these little trial balloons, keep running things up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes. Make no mistake: the political will to take the internet away from us definitely exists.
Business and Media reports that: "There’s a huge concern among conservative talk radio hosts that reinstatement of the Fairness Doctrine would all but destroy the industry, due to equal time constraints. But speech limits might not stop at radio. They could even be extended to include the internet and government dictating content policy. FCC Commissioner Robert McDowell raised that as a possibility after talking with bloggers at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C. McDowell spoke about a recent FCC vote to bar Comcast from engaging in certain internet practices - expanding the federal agency’s oversight of Internet networks."
"The commissioner, a 2006 President Bush appointee, told the Business & Media Institute that the Fairness Doctrine could be intertwined with the net neutrality battle. The result might end with the government regulating content on the Web, he warned. McDowell, who was against reprimanding Comcast, said the net neutrality effort could win the support of 'a few isolated conservatives' who may not fully realize the long-term effects of government regulation.
"'I think the fear is that somehow large corporations will censor their content, their points of view, right,' McDowell said. 'I think the bigger concern for them should be if you have government dictating content policy, which by the way would have a big First Amendment problem. Then, whoever is in charge of government is going to determine what is fair, under a so-called Fairness Doctrine, which won’t be called that - it’ll be called something else,' McDowell said. “So, will web sites, will bloggers have to give equal time or equal space on their web site to opposing views rather than letting the marketplace of ideas determine that?”
This idea has come up in several earlier incarnations down through the years, the idea being that the federal government will require "at least three links to web sites with opposing views" so that people surfing the internet "will hear something other than the echoes of their own voices."
"''The Fairness Doctrine has not been raised at the FCC, but the importance of this election is in part - has something to do with that,' McDowell said. 'So you know, this election, if it goes one way, we could see a re-imposition of the Fairness Doctrine. There is a discussion of it in Congress. I think it won’t be called the Fairness Doctrine by folks who are promoting it. I think it will be called something else and I think it’ll be intertwined into the net neutrality debate.'" (This bureaucrat is, in his own stumbling way, trying to warn against the election of Barack Obama.)
Remember when the Sea Hag and Nancy Pelosi got overheard on the Senate floor talking about bringing back the Hush Rush act for another attempt at passage, to silence conservative talk radio? If they can get away with that, do we really believe they'll leave the internet alone?