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Congressional Probe over Net Neutrality


On June 2, 2011, Judicial Watch released documents that show the Obama FCC’s collusion with a radical leftist organization to seize control over the Internet. This investigation caught the eye of congressional leaders, and now it appears a congressional probe of the matter is in the offing.

According to The Hill:

The House Energy and Commerce Committee pressed the Federal Communications Commission on Thursday for all documentation of the rulemaking process behind the agency’s net-neutrality regulations.

Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Reps. Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) cited reports that FCC Chief of Staff Edward Lazarus attended White House meetings where net-neutrality rules were debated as evidence the FCC rules passed in December were politically motivated.

The representatives also pointed to an investigation from Judicial Watch that unearthed emails from the advocacy group Free Press to aides of FCC Commissioner Michael Copps advocating strongly for net neutrality, which Copps supported. Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) termed the emails “collusion” last month.

“These allegations suggest the FCC’s network neutrality proceeding was designed to fulfill a presidential campaign slogan, when it should have been based on an analysis of statutory authority, an economic analysis of the Internet service market, and an examination of the record,” the lawmakers wrote.

“If true, it seems the FCC failed to develop an independent conclusion derived from a balanced fact-based record, which is incompatible with proper rule-making.”

Importantly, that FCC 3-2 vote seemed to be at with odds an April, 2010, federal appeals court ruling that the FCC had exceeded its authority in seeking to regulate the Internet and enforce “net neutrality” rules. (More evidence the lawless Obama administration has as much respect for court rulings as it does the U.S. Constitution — which is to say, very little.)

Now let me tell you why Congress is so “suspicious.”

The documents we uncovered show that the Obama FCC was deeply involved in discussions with the radical leftist organization Free Press in the run up to the December 2010 FCC vote. How deep? Free Press reached out to the FCC to invite FCC Commissioner Michael Copps to write an op-ed for the Albuquerque Journal in advance of a November 16 hearing on Internet Access. Free Press helped coordinate a speaker’s list for FCC “Internet workshops” — which was a “Who’s Who” of liberal activists.

There were also a series of back-and-forth emails to set up meetings between Copps and former Free Press President John Silver just before the net neutrality vote:

We are starting to get a good sense of how we’d like to proceed during the next three tricky months on NN [net neutrality]…” Silver wrote in an October 8, 2010, email: “I think it may make sense for us to get together next week when I’m in town.”

The documents also include a written summary of a phone call between Silver and Copps on November 28, 2010, again, just prior to the FCC vote in December:

Silver emphasized that a strong net neutrality rule is critical to preserving the Internet as a vibrant forum for speech, commerce, innovation and cultural expression…” the summary noted.

Allow me to introduce you to the people who seem to be running the FCC’s Internet policies:

Robert McChesny, former editor of the socialist magazine Monthly Review, is the co-founder and president of Free Press. Kim Gandy, the Chairman of the Free Press Board of Directors, served as the President of the leftist National Organization for Women from 2001-2009. Craig Aaron, Free Press’s President and CEO, formerly worked as managing editor of the socialist tabloid In These Times. Free Press is financially supported by George Soros‘ Open Society Institute and other hard-left groups such as the Ford Foundation and Democracy Alliance.

Two socialists, a radical feminist, and a left-wing eccentric billionaire who uses his wealth to drive the liberal agenda — that’s quite a team.

The “net neutrality” debate is highly technical and somewhat confusing. Proponents of net neutrality count on this confusion to hoodwink people into accepting their agenda. But here’s why many see “net neutrality” as so dangerous.

Proponents of net neutrality, like Free Press, believe Internet access is a civil right. And what happens when you make something a civil right? You put the government in charge of “protecting” those rights. In the case of net neutrality, proponents want taxpayer-funded online access for everyone, most especially communities they deem “underserved.” This, of course, would require government control.

If allowed to move forward, the Left’s version of “net neutrality” could stifle innovation by preventing Internet service providers from managing their information networks with any flexibility. And it could effectively kill the digital economy. As Reason Magazine’s Steven Titch argued, if net neutrality were in play several years ago, there would be no iPhone, to give just one example.

So here’s the question you need to ask yourself. Do you want George Soros and Barack Obama to be able to micromanage the Internet? Congress is right (once again) to follow Judicial Watch’s lead in asking this question.

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