FCC’s Net Neutrality Plan Is Another Step in the Regulation of Speech

So the latest development on the speech regulation front is Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler’s rumored plan to create a “hybrid” regulatory structure in the name of “net neutrality,” the condition which, as it happens, has already been attained.

Under Wheeler’s plan, Internet regulation would be split between a highly regulated back end, where content providers deal with Internet service providers (ISPs), and a more lightly regulated front end, where consumers get their content from ISPs.  This, so it’s said, is a way to get around the decision of a federal appeals court that invalidated an earlier FCC attempt to institute net neutrality regulations.

So it is that net neutrality has gone from what Bob Kahn, the inventor of the Transmission Control Protocol, has called a “slogan,” to what Scott Cleland derides as an industrial policy benefiting Silicon Valley at the expense of consumers.

Those who have a sense of history, and a wider angle of vision on the policy process, may be struck by something else.  The FCC’s plan, coming at the very time that the Federal Election Commission is looking for ways to regulate political speech on the Internet, the Justice Department is spying on journalists, and the National Security Agency (NSA) is intercepting citizens’ phone calls and e-mail, would add yet another way in which government could insert itself into the speech business.  >> Read More