"I'm totally for small government except when it conflicts with my pet projects."


I got so angry when I saw Glenn's link to a Reason piece about the FCC's latest attempt to regulate the Internet that I had to calm down before I could write a post. That's because the jurisdictional power grab may already be a done deal:

Genachowski [close friend, basketball buddy, Harvard Law classmate, and "top man" of President Obama at the FCC] has finally managed to plant regulatory roots within the Net. On December 21, 2010, the agency voted 3-2 to pass a major regulatory order that no one outside the FCC had been allowed to see. Genachowski's power grab had been accomplished in haste and secrecy as a lame-duck Congress prepared for Christmas, but he had successfully fulfilled the president's promise and asserted federal control over the sprawling core of the Net. Commissioner McDowell's "greatest deregulatory success story of all time" has given way to empowered regulators. The Internet, after luxuriating in lawless freedom, finally has its own cop.

Sickening. The FCC has no congressional authority or jurisdiction over the Internet.

In a very odd coincidence, I was having nightmares about the FCC just last night. There is no better example of an agency which needs to be abolished, yet that does not happen, no matter who is in charge or what the circumstances. 

Even when the Republicans have a majority, it seems that THE FCC WILL NOT GO AWAY.

Back in December (when the FCC's threat to Internet freedom was much under discussion) a number of prominent bloggers and journalists were calling for the abolition of the FCC. Ed Morrisey put it well:

Why do we need the FCC in the 21st century?  Most television channels are narrowcasters, using satellites and cable channels that don't eat up limited broadcast space in local markets.  The phone system in the US is no longer monopolized, and the issues of access and competition in those areas could be handled by state public-utility commissions, as they are now.  The licensing of broadcast stations could be handled by the Commerce Department, or by a greatly-reduced FCC with binding limitations on jurisdiction.

We have managed to free ourselves from the encumbrances of monopolization over the last thirty years.  This country doesn't need a bloated bureaucracy getting in the way of innovation and commerce.  It needs government to acknowledge that its communications-regulation apparatus is archaic and in need of downsizing, rather than attempting to nationalize the media.

That was nearly two months ago, and there's no perceptible movement I can see towards that goal. Instead, the FCC has now deliberately thumbed its nose at the Internet, at bloggers and at libertarians.

With Obama as president, the FCC is in the hands of the left. You'd think that would make it a perfect time for a major push by Republicans to do something about this unconstitutional agency that's now threatening the Internet, right? What could possibly be going on?

Forgive my flight of paranoia, but I think it takes two to work in collusion, and my worry is that support for the FCC is not be limited to the left. As M. Simon pointed out earlier, there are people on the right who think along the following lines:

"I'm totally for small government except when it conflicts with my pet projects."

One of these pet project is a pro-censorship outfit called the Parents Television Council. Founded by prominent social conservative Brent Bozell (a leader of the the CPAC boycott), the organization is literally obsessed with the FCC and jurisdiction, and constantly harangues its members to contact them about this or that show.

Where the PTC stands on Internet censorship, I don't know. However, they do not limit their efforts to broadcast television; they have a major effort devoted to fighting programming they don't like on cable TV. This they disguise as "consumer choice" protectionism. Your cable TV dollars are subsidizing bestiality! And something must be done!

Cable subscribers everywhere should be outraged and demand to know why they are being forced to subsidize bestiality with their cable bills. Yes, you heard me right: bestiality, where a person engages in sexual activity with an animal. And if you subscribe to cable or satellite TV so you can watch ESPN or History Channel or CNN or Fox News, then you helped pay for that disgusting content. That's why we urgently need you to respond to this call-to-action. Please take a moment today to write to your Congressman and Senators and demand Cable Choice.

In a manner uncannily reminiscent of the way the left clamors for the FCC to enforce "net neutrality" when they really want the government's foot in the door, the PTC argues that the government should intervene in the market and force cable companies (and DIRECTV) to allow subscribers to pick and pay for only one channel (at a dollar a month). That's about as logical as saying that I shouldn't be "forced" to "subsidize" filthy radio like Howard Stern if I subscribe to, say, XM  Satellite Radio, and that I should only have to pay for the programs I actually want to listen to. Access to a medium doesn't come packaged that way.

But if you think that kind of meddling is the government's business, you'll love the FCC and the PTC. And of course the PTC activists would love nothing more than to be in charge of the FCC.

That's how things work.

Some "small government conservatives" like big government.

Especially when it's their big government.

MORE: Internet censorship in England:

A conservative member of the British Parliament has made a move to block all pornography from reaching Internet subscribers in the UK.

The British government plans to meet with Internet service providers in the country next month to discuss the idea of censoring all Internet connections and requiring users to specifically request access to pornographic materials from their ISPs.

There are plenty of people who would love to make it happen here.

And they are not all on the left.

posted by Eric on 02.09.11 at 12:50 AM


I am so honored!

I have been doing some more thinking on that line:


M. Simon   ·  February 9, 2011 1:34 AM

There are four dangerous bills/doctrines coming up all of which will have a profound impact on the Internet, and media as we know it. 1. Kill Switch (introduced by Jay Rockefellar last year) 2. Fairness Doctrine. 3. Net Neutrality, and 4. Wiretapping expansion to apply to Internet use.

My name is Rob Mullins and I am a IT professional with a Master Degree in IT and I also teach at a University. One thing I keep abreast on is Information Technology. Bear in mind these things when you fire your computer up in the morning.

#1. The network card 'NIC' in any device is OWNED by the FCC as part of a communications standard and it is a federal offense to tamper with it.
#2. ANY phone or radio device also falls under FCC jurisdiction, including HAM radio, FM, AM, and any other device that broadcasts or receives any kind of communicative signal from the air.
#3. Almost every piece of technology that is used in a computer is actually OWNED by someone else. Read the EULA's (End Users Licence Agreements) Anything you produce using 'Word', 'Excel', or any other Microsoft product is actually OWNED by Microsoft, even though under the doctrine of 'latches' the law does not aid them for 'resting on their rights'. In addition, most formats that you 'think' are free actually are not. JPEG is one of those. It's owned by Adobe and they promise to NOT make you pay for it's use until the year 2014.

#4. NOTHING, absolutely NOTHING that travels through the internet, or over a cell phone or a regular phone or over ANY device is tamper proof or 'private', this needs to be understood by everybody. You have a better chance of sneaking into the U.S. with yellow-cake than surfing porn in private.

I could go on but you get the point. The thing of it is, that the FCC and Federal Government doesn't have to pass a single law to kick in your door and take your computer. The card is already owned by the FCC, and they can manufacture any reason at all, to walk into your house and appropriate any communicative device you have bought. You have my email, if you would like to discuss further, it's a topic that comes up in my classes often.

Rob   ·  February 9, 2011 10:10 AM

The V chip is also germane:


M. Simon   ·  February 9, 2011 11:51 AM

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