In keeping with the Obama Administration’s adamant declarations that the White House can rule by fiat, the next topic in the cross-hairs for Obamanating is Net Neutrality and control of the internet. Â At issue is moving ahead with projects proposed by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) without any Congressional input or oversight.
Yesterday, the Obama White House insisted that they have the authority to do that. Â From Reuters:
At stake is what rules should govern how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage web traffic on their networks to ensure they treat all Internet content fairly. At the heart of the latest phase in the debate over the rules is what legal authority should guide regulations.
Obama has urged the FCC to regulate ISPs more strictly under a section of communications law known as Title II, which would treat them more like public utilities. Broadband companies adamantly oppose the plan, saying the added regulatory burden would reduce investment and stifle innovation.
This action directly opposes legislative efforts by Republicans to find a way to regulate the internet – a loose collection of computer networks from private, public, university and business sources with a non-governing agreement determining ISP protocol – without resorting to Title II, even with bans on cable ISPs that block various websites as both the White House and Congressional oversight are proposing.
This concept of government oversight of the internet in the United States is a contentious issue. Â In the beginning, there was no perceived need for executive action on ISP protocol or regulating the way the system is managed, just a trust in self-regulation by the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), a non-profit based in California. Â From Breitbart:
FCC control of how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage web traffic on their networks is supposedly an effort to ensure that the ISPs treat all of the Internetâ€™s content â€œfairly.â€ But it is the potential for political bias in interpreting what â€œfairlyâ€ actually means that is at the heart of the debate over the legal authority to set regulations and fee
Aside from potential chilling effects on free speech that regulation would produce, additional fees would be rendered to users at all levels, an extension of the current 16.1% on interstate telecommunication, essentially doubling the cost of using the internet. Â Service providers would be forced to pass on costs to consumers thus making the internet inaccessible for many Americans and start-up companies. Â That does not seem to phase the White House, however:
“In terms of legislation, we donâ€™t believe itâ€™s necessary given that the FCC has the authorities that it needs under Title II,” a White House official told Reuters. “However, we always remain open to working with anyone who shares the president’s goal of fully preserving a free and open internet now and into the future.”
Last year, the FCC announced ambitious plans to connect schools and libraries via wi-fi. Â The project would cost billions of dollars, and so far has not been debated in Congress for any kind of release of funds to complete the project. Â Because of the “perception” that Congress has any sort of oversight of the FCC – aside from the very big one of managing the purse strings – this social agenda has not been put into action.
At this point, though, all bets are off the table as the Obama Administration has once again decided to by-pass Congress on an issue that impacts all Americans, costs bedamned. Â The FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler, an Obama appointee, plans to vote on net neutrality February 27.