Are Obama’s Feds Preparing To Launch This Freedom-Killing Secret Weapon Against Fox News?

In what sounds like an Internet-related version of the so-called “Fairness Doctrine,” a new plan to control content on the Internet may be in the formative stages among over-zealous federal regulators. So says a Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) who not long ago sounded the alarm on net neutrality rules that take effect in June and reclassify Internet providers as utilities subject to greater regulatory checks and curbs.

FCC commissioner Ajit Pai recently told the Right Online conference in Washington, D.C., that he can easily foresee a not-too-distant future in which government bureaucrats will try to exert control over websites based on their political content. CNS News reports that Pai — one of two GOP members of the Democrat-controlled FCC — warned conference attendees:

What you’re seeing now is an impulse not just to regulate the roads over which traffic goes, but the traffic itself.

And Pai noted that websites such as the Drudge Report and the online outlet of Fox News could certainly become the targets of content regulators intent on imposing their view of “free speech” that they deem fair and balanced.

By clicking on the video above — provided courtesy of cnsnews.com as a brief audio recording of a key portion of Pai’s warning — you can hear the FCC commissioner raise the specter of possible restrictions that may be coming to the online marketplace of ideas.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Equipping You With The Truth

Report: Net Neutrality Could Result In Higher Broadband Fees For Consumers

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Newly implemented Internet regulations could impose a tax increase on broadband providers, resulting in higher internet prices for consumers.

The Los Angeles Times reported Thursday that a fee funding the Universal Service Fund (USF), a program established to subsidize telephone service in low-income and rural areas, could not only appear on telephone bills–but broadband bills too. The USF raised $8.8 billion in 2014. This is how the fund works, as described by The LA Times: “For phone service, telecom firms pass the fees directly to their customers, with the average household paying about $3 a month.”

According to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website, the USF was initially established to bring “telephone service to low-income households and high-cost areas.” The Telecommunications Act of 1996 expanded that definition to include “among other things rural health care providers and eligible schools and libraries.”

The fund is overseen by a board comprised of FCC commissioners, state utility commissioners, and a consumer advocate representative. As The LA Times noted, the implementation of the USF to broadband has been delayed until this board makes its decision on the matter, which should happen in the coming weeks.

“I think it is incorrect… to say anything in what we have done will lead to an increase in [USF] fee contributions,” FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, recently told House members.

But Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican, strongly disagrees. “The federal government is sure to tap this new revenue stream soon to spend more of consumers’ hard-earned dollars,” cautioned Pai. “So when it comes to broadband, read my lips: More new taxes are coming. It’s just a matter of when.”

In February, the FCC approved net neutrality along a 3-2 party line vote to treat the Internet like a utility rather than an information service, allowing the commission to exercise sweeping oversight. Trade organization USTelecom and Texas-based Alamo Broadband filed suit in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C. last month challenging the regulations.

Share this on Facebook and Twitter if you strongly oppose net neutrality.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

FCC Commissioners Warn ‘Net Neutrality’ Sets Stage for New Internet Taxes

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Two commissioners, who dissented from the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to adopt ‘net neutrality’ regulations, warn that the Internet’s new status as a public utility will lead to new Internet taxes. The vote to impose these new regulations fell along party lines–with the three Democrat commissioners, including the chairman, voting for the change and the two Republican commissioners voting against it. The FCC released its Net Neutrality Order Thursday.

Republican commissioner Ajit Pai wrote in his dissent:

The Internet has become a powerful force for freedom. So it is sad to witness the FCC’s unprecedented attempt to replace that freedom with government control….This Order imposes intrusive government regulations that won’t work to solve a problem that doesn’t exist using legal authority the FCC doesn’t have.

Pai added that both Democrats and Republicans, with the passage of the “Telecommunications Act of 1996, enshrined the principle that the Internet should be ‘vibrant and competitive free market . . . unfettered by Federal or State regulation.’” And, he continued, every chairman, Republican or Democrat, since has allowed the internet to grow free from “utility-style regulation.”

Fellow Republican commissioner Michael O’Rielly states that re-classifying the Internet as a public utility is “a monumental and unlawful power grab.”

Both commissioners agree that this re-classification as a “Title II utility,” putting them in the same category as cell phone providers, will ultimately mean new internet taxes being imposed.

Democrat FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler counters that the regulations specifically do not impose a new tax. The FCC went so far as to release a report titled “Open Internet Order: Separating  Fact from Fiction,” which states that “Nothing in the Order imposes or authorizes new taxes or fees.”

However, Pai and O’Rielly, in their dissents, write that with the re-classification of the Internet, providers will be subject to the Universal Service contributions, just like other communications companies. They both find it disingenuous to hide behind the notion that the new fees will not be a direct tax on consumers simply because they pass through the Internet providers.

To this point, the commission simply notes in its Fact from Fiction document: “With respect to Universal Service, the Order does not impose mandatory contribution assessments, but simply allows a current, separate proceeding on how to reform universal service contributions to proceed.” In other words: the fee is coming; we just won’t decide what it should be now.

Pai further highlights that the new categorization as a utility means state and local government will now be able to tax Internet providers at utility company rates, which again will be passed on to the consumer.

The FCC “net neutrality” order does not directly impose new Internet taxes at this time…true, but it opens the door for new ones almost certain to come down the road.

Some Internet providers are expected to appeal the FCC ruling in federal court.

h/t: CNSNews.com

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Cyber Security Proposals Threaten Privacy

Obama on Cuban Relations

In the name of fighting against cyber attacks, Barack Obama wants to change the rules that protect your personal data. You see, the real motherlode of data on Americans currently sits in private hands.

But Obama wants to move the data into the claws of law enforcement agencies.

The goal is to have private sector companies give even more information to the government, in exchange for protection against lawsuits for the misuse of data.

It’s a beneficial deal for the companies and the government, but what this deal implies for the consumer is downright frightening…

The leading privacy advocates were aghast at Obama’s latest moves against online privacy.

In a statement criticizing the Obama proposal, the Electronic Frontier Foundation said: “Introducing information-sharing proposals with broad liability protections, increasing penalties under the already-draconian Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, and potentially decreasing the protections granted to consumers under state data breach law are both unnecessary and unwelcomed. The status quo of overweening national security and law enforcement secrecy means that expanded information-sharing poses a serious risk of transferring more personal information to intelligence and law enforcement agencies.”

The False Solution for a True Problem

Cyber security is a real problem, but the biggest threats are outside the country. Hackers from Russia and China are threatening private firms and public networks via the internet. Instead of beefing up security against these threats, the Obama team wants to broadly collect more data on generally law-abiding American citizens.

In the internet world, this is akin to having the TSA search your 85-year-old grandma at the airport. The focus is all wrong.

If you clearly analyze the myriad proposals affecting the internet from the Obama administration, they all have one common denominator: they give the federal government more control over private activity and citizens.

Another frightening proposal is pending at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), one that would declare data networks to be public utilities. Reason being, once again, to give the government (in this case, the FCC) dramatically more power over internet providers.

Adding insult to injury, a third proposal uses the FCC to strike down laws in the states that prohibit government agencies from building broadband networks to compete against private firms. Obama and his team love the idea of socializing the internet by putting networks in the hands of local governments.

Bottom line: Should these three proposals pass, they’ll dramatically change the way the internet works. Government as the guardian of your private data? Check. Government as regulator of all private internet providers? Check. And finally, the government actually providing your internet access.

A government in control of all cyber space is slowly taking shape. Consider yourself warned.

 

This commentary originally appeared at WallStreetDaily.com and is reprinted here with permission.

The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom

Why Is Obama’s Administration Chilling Free Speech Yet Again?

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Earlier this week, the federal government’s National Science Foundation, an entity created to encourage the study of science — encouragement that it achieves by awarding grants to scholars and universities — announced that it had awarded a grant to study what people say about themselves and others in social media. The NSF dubbed the project Truthy, a reference to comedian Stephen Colbert’s invention and hilarious use of the word “truthiness.”

The reference to Colbert is cute, and he is a very funny guy; but when the feds get into the business of monitoring speech, it is surely no joke–it is a nightmare. It is part of the Obama administration’s persistent efforts to monitor communication and scrutinize the expressions of opinions it hates and fears.

We already know the National Security Agency has the digital versions of all telephone conversations and emails sent to, from, or within the U.S. since 2005. Edward Snowden’s revelations of all this are credible and substantiated, and the government’s denials are weak and unavailing — so weak and unavailing that many NSA agents disbelieve them.

But the government’s unbridled passion to monitor us has become insatiable. Just two months ago, the Federal Communications Commission, which licenses broadcasters, threatened to place federal agents in cable television newsrooms so they can see how stories are generated and produced. The FCC doesn’t even regulate cable; yet it threatened to enhance its own authority by monitoring cable companies from the inside.

What’s going on here?

What’s going on here, and has been going on since President Obama took office in January 2009, is a government with little or no fidelity to basic constitutional norms. There is no defense under the Constitution to any aspect of the government’s — federal, state, regional, local, or hybrid; or any entity owned or controlled by any government; or any entity that exercises the government’s coercive powers or spends or receives its money — monitoring of the expressive behavior of anyone in the U.S., not in a newsroom, on social media, or anywhere else.

The NSF’s stated purpose of the Truthy squad is to look for errors in speech, particularly errors that fuel hatred or political extremes. This monitoring — this so-called search for error — is totalitarian and directly contradicts well-grounded Supreme Court jurisprudence, for several reasons.

First, for the government to gather information — public or private — on any person, the Constitution requires that the government have “articulable suspicion” about that person. Articulable suspicion is a mature and objective reason to believe that the person has engaged in criminal behavior. Without that level of articulable belief, the government is powerless to scrutinize anyone for any reason.

The articulable suspicion threshold is vital to assure that people in America have the presumption of liberty and are free to choose their behavior unimpeded or threatened by the government. The feds cannot cast a net into the marketplace of ideas and challenge what it brings in. Were they able to do so, the constitutional protections for free expression and the primacy of liberty would be meaningless.

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The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by WesternJournalism.com.

This post originally appeared on Western Journalism – Informing And Equipping Americans Who Love Freedom