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MoveOn, Google Seek To Control Internet

Most will remember the two campaign ads that the Soros-funded America-haters at MoveOn posted online two years ago:

 

MoveOn Video #1     MoveOn Video #2

Clearly MoveOn should be the designated arbiter of "net neutrality." At least that’s what Google and now many in Congress seem to think.

From the Wall Street Journal’s Opinion Journal:

The Web’s Worst New Idea

Google and Microsoft team up with Moveon.org.

Thursday, May 18, 2006 12:01 a.m. EDT

If ever there was a solution in search of a problem, "Net neutrality" is it. Sometime recently, someone got up on the wrong side of bed and decided that the freedom that has been the hallmark of the Internet now threatens to destroy it.

Suddenly the Internet service providers, which you always thought were there to let you get onto the Net, are going to keep you off it unless the government imposes new laws and regulations. Congressional hearings have been held. Vint Cerf, Internet progenitor and now Google evangelist, evangelizes. Thus has the cause of Net neutrality in its current incarnation become a new and ardent crusade of the political left.

Net neutrality is generally billed as a way of reining in Internet service providers (typically phone and cable companies), some of whom have made noises about charging content companies extra fees for guaranteeing priority to certain kinds of services. Net neutrality is supposed to save us–and Google and Yahoo–from this supposedly unconscionable behavior. Its effect would be more damaging.

It’s worth putting this zealotry in a broader historical context. In the decade or so since the commercialization of the Internet began in earnest, the number of users, the speed of their connections and the variety of things they can do on the Net have all rushed forward. Blissfully, but not coincidentally, all this has been accomplished with a light regulatory touch. Excepting pornography and gambling, no bureaucrats have decided what services could be provided over the Internet, or who could offer them or how they could charge for them.

The result has been rich and diverse. Web surfers can make phone calls–sometimes free, sometimes for a fee. They can legally listen to music, either free, by subscription or by paying per song. They can watch some network television shows online–again, some are free and supported by ads; others charge per program.

Some of the service ideas have been bad, and failed. Some are wonderful. But many would never have been tried if the Federal Communications Commission had been able to tell businesses whom they could charge, how much or how little, or what they could or couldn’t sell on the Net. Freedom, in other words, has been the Web surfer’s friend.

Enter Net neutrality, which has so far found its only official expression in a nonbinding policy statement issued by the FCC last year. The FCC statement says, "consumers are entitled" (our emphasis) to the "content," "applications" and "devices" of their choice on the Internet. They are also "entitled to competition among network providers, application and service providers, and content providers."

Take a moment to pause over this expansive list of "entitlements." If we take the FCC at its word, access to online pornography is now a right, even though in a different context the FCC is increasingly preoccupied with policing "decency" standards on television. We’d have thought FCC Chairman Kevin Martin would find all that entitlement talk a little embarrassing, given his campaign for decency standards.

But at least the FCC’s guidelines were just that–guidelines. Increasingly, and with the backing both of the Moveon.org crowd and "Don’t Be Evil" Google, a movement is afoot to give these entitlements the force of law. Congressman Ed Markey has introduced a bill to "save the Internet" by codifying Net neutrality principles in law. The FCC would be charged with enforcing "non-discrimination" and "openness" rules.

Under a law like this–variations are floating around both houses of Congress–the country could look forward to years of litigation about the extent and nature of the rules. When the dust settled we’d have a new set of regulations that could span the range of possible activities on the Net. What’s more, the rules aren’t likely to stop with the phone and cable companies that have Mr. Markey and his friends at Moveon.org so exercised.

Non-discrimination cases could well be brought against Net neutrality backers like Google–say, for placing a competitor too low in their search results. Google’s recent complaint that Microsoft’s new operating system was anti-competitive is a foretaste of what the battles over a "neutral" Net would look like. Yet Google and other Web site operators have jumped on the Net neutrality bandwagon lest they have to pay a fee to get a guaranteed level of service from a Verizon or other Internet service provider. They don’t seem to comprehend the legal and political danger they’ll face once they open the neutrality floodgates. We’d have thought Microsoft of all companies would have learned this lesson from its antitrust travails, but it too has now hired lawyers to join the Net neutrality lobby.

All the recent scare-mongering about the coming ruination of the Internet is cloaked in rhetoric about how recent court rulings and regulatory actions by the FCC have undermined certain "protections." This is mostly bluster. Companies like AOL did not migrate from a "walled garden" to a more-open, Internet-centric model because of mandates from Washington but because the alternative was extinction.

Given the impulse on the left to regulate anything that moves, perhaps the real surprise here is that it’s taken this long for someone to seriously suggest the Net will wither in the absence of a federal regulatory apparatus. "Don’t ruin the Internet" is a slogan with a lot of merit. But it comes with a modern corollary, which is "Don’t regulate what isn’t broken."

Some further details about this from an earlier piece in the American Spectator:

Internet Nationalization

By The Prowler
Published 5/15/2006 12:09:26 AM

NET NEUTRALITY (sic)

"This is how poisonous it’s gotten in Washington," says a consulting lobbyist for a broadcast network. "You have Republicans taking money from companies and firms working to end their control of Congress, and even worse, working with outfits like MoveOn.org. And they are taking this money to not only help groups dedicated to defeating Republicans, but also for legislation that would regulate the Internet."

The highest profile Republican among those the lobbyist is referring to is Vin Weber, former House member and close ally to both former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and Americans for Tax Reform leader Grover Norquist (who is on the opposite side of Weber’s current fight). Weber is a leader of a coalition that supports legislation introduced by Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass) and pending legislation backed by Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.). Sources say that Internet companies Google, Yahoo, Amazon, Microsoft, eBay, and others ponied up $330,000 each to build the coalition that Weber is using to influence conservative groups, most recently the Christian Coalition, to join.

"Word is that some of these groups are taking as much as $50,000 to sign on to support Internet regulation," says a House Energy Committee staffer. "It’s remarkable that these groups are supporting legislation that would actually do more harm to them. That and the groups they are helping are actually working against them and many of the candidates they are supporting."

The Internet regulation that is under consideration is called "Internet Neutrality," and it would essentially bar all high-speed network operators such as Comcast and ATT to offer additional services such as video downloads, online video-gaming, or enhanced email that compete with companies like Google, Yahoo, and Microsoft that already offer them. "Markey and Snowe want to basically ensure that Google and Microsoft and other big, established companies have their market share protected. They claim this is about protecting consumers, but how is making sure Google has no competition good for consumers?" says the House committee staffer.

The legislation, say some Senate Republican staffers, would lead to a "Nationalized Internet," because the companies that are wholly financing broadband deployment, telecom and cable and wireless companies, would most likely stop investing in the technology, forcing the federal government to perhaps foot the bill and regulate the Internet even more.

"If a company is told, ‘Build this network, but you can’t make any money off of it because it will create too much competition,’ what do you expect a company to do? That is what this legislation is going to do, and Google and Micrososft are more than happy to see it happen, because they make money off of the Internet in different ways from the networks’ operators. Their business model is safe," says a Senate Commerce Committee staffer.

What makes Weber’s cynical support of the legislation even worse, say Republican Hill staffers, is that his activities also aid MoveOn.org, the extremist, left-wing organization, which is now being financially backed by Google so that MoveOn can help Google with "Net Neutrality."

Google has become the single largest private corporate underwriter of MoveOn. According to sources in the Democrat National Committee, MoveOn has received more than $1 million from Google and its lobbyists in Washington to create grassroots support for the Internet regulation legislation. Some of that money has gone to an online petition drive and a letter-writing campaign, but the majority of that money is being used to fund their activities against Republicans out in the states.

For example, MoveOn is said by one DNC source to have funneled at least $100,000 "Net Neutrality" money to its operations in Pennsylvania (where MoveOn is organizing against Sen. Rick Santorum). It has also sent funds to Florida, Ohio, and Missouri.

MoveOn is also using the funds to help Democrats, including House minority leader Rep. Nancy Pelosi and Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington state. "A month ago, Representative Pelosi didn’t know what Net Neutrality was, then she heard that Google and other Silicon Valley firms wanted it. Now it’s one of her top issues. What Silicon Valley wants, Silicon Valley gets," says a House Democrat leadership staffer.

"You have to wonder when conservatives will wake up and realize what is happening here," says a House Republican leadership aide. "You have this unholy alliance between Google and MoveOn and groups like the Christian Coalition. I mean how is it the Christian Coalition can help a company like Google, which makes money off of online pornography? Conservatives ought to be very concerned about this situation, but they don’t seem to get it. And perhaps by the time they do, it will be too late."

I suppose it is to be expected that the ChiCom lickspittles at Google and Microsoft would find their soul mate in MoveOn.

But do we really want Google and MoveOn controlling the internet?

This article was posted by Steve on Thursday, May 18th, 2006. Comments are currently closed.

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