Controlling The Internet

By Bill Wilson

They are calling it some fancy, freedom sounding name - net neutrality. But what the Government is doing is getting its hooks into the information superhighway in a way that may well impact free speech.

We will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful regulation. The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning of a long winter's night for Internet freedom.

They use words like "treating all online traffic equally" and "open internet", but don't believe it. The government intends to regulate the content on the internet by regulating the companies that provide the bandwidth that allows the information flow. It starts with calls for regulating child pornography. In Britain, for example, the government is calling for internet providers to block sites that may be harmful to children. There is no doubt that child pornography is harmful to children and to those who look at it. In fact, all pornography is harmful and should not be protected as free speech or free expression. It is demeaning to those who participate and to those who consume. Pornography should be banned. But regulating the internet is not the answer.

** In Australia, the ruling Labor party has long been pushing to control internet content under the guise of protecting our children, and they also want to keep the list of banned sites away from public scrutiny. Truly democratic eh? (...Keygar) **

The internet got its origins as a US Defense Department experiment to be able to share information even in the event of a disaster. In the 1990's, I was part of a group of entrepreneurs who worked to commercialize the internet by bringing it to the general public. The concept was a "people's" network, free from regulation holding to the principle of free speech. Right away there were pornographers setting up shop. And it invaded all homes, drawing attention to the need for responsible use by families. Now the internet has grown to a vital information exchange, free speech, and business and economic staple in the lives of all peoples. And now governments from around the world fear the power of people communicating.

So it's NOT about protecting children from pornography. If the government wanted to do that, it would have BANNED pornography as offensive content on the internet. This government intervention is headed toward what Venezuela's Hugo Chevez is doing - banning messages and content that "disrespect public authorities," "incite or promote hatred," or are aimed at creating "anxiety." This is bureaucratese for stopping free speech, and especially religious free speech.

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