The chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Communications Committee has welcomed the vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to allow the government to take control over the Internet.
According to a press release on the USCCB website, the move for the government to regulate the Internet is “crucial for allowing religions, including the Catholic Church, to communicate online,” and will serve in “preserving service providers from discriminating against content makers.”
“The Internet is a critical medium for religious speech,” said Bishop John C. Wester of Salt Lake City, chair of the Communications Committee of the USCCB. “Radio, broadcast television and cable television are, in large part, closed to noncommercial religious messages.”
“From the inception of the Internet until the mid-2000s, Internet service providers were not permitted to discriminate or tamper with what was said over those Internet connections,” Wester continued. “Today, the FCC restores this protection for speakers, protection particularly important to noncommercial religious speakers.”
According to the press statement, the USCCB has “long supported open Internet, where neither the telephone or cable company providing access can tamper with access by consumers to any legal website or other web content.”
Catholic media Aleteia reported that in 2006, former chair of the USCCB Communications Committee Bishop Gerald Kicanas of Tucson — who has testified in support of amnesty for illegal immigrants — warned that religious speakers “will be effectively barred from the Internet” without strong federal controls.
The National Religious Broadcasters (NRB), however, has come out in opposition to government control of the Internet.
“I am saddened that the FCC voted on partisan lines to dramatically expand federal power over the Internet,” said NRB president and CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson in a statement. “Bigger government is not fertile ground for the flourishing of free speech and innovation. This is a power grab, and NRB opposes it.”
According to a report in the Washington Examiner, liberal philanthropist George Soros and the Ford Foundation have donated $196 million to the “net neutrality” cause, and have positioned supporters of government takeover of the Internet on the White House staff.
In a statement sent to Breitbart News, Brent Bozell, president of the Media Research Center (MRC) and chairman of ForAmerica, said, “The radicals control the Federal Communications Commission and the FCC is out of control in its zeal to control free speech. The North Koreans would approve of its machinations.”
The USCCB media office did not respond to Breitbart News’ attempts to obtain comment.