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Conservatives Should Back Net Neutrality, Here's Why

Conservatives Should Back Net Neutrality, Here's Why

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Wednesday, 05 September 2018 11:04 AM Current | Bio | Archive

If you want to boil down the quintessential Republican message that stretches from Teddy Roosevelt to Ronald Reagan, it would simply be this: Let everyone compete in the marketplace on a free and equal basis, without fear of undue regulation, trusting the God-given resourcefulness of the American people to attain success.

That’s what we stand for, folks: free markets.

Whether Republicans hold fast to those cherished values will probably determine whether the GOP can hold onto Congress in November.

That’s why I feel compelled to warn you that powerful special interests want to sacrifice your right to unfettered access to the internet on the altar of Big Cable.

And my message is: Don’t let them!

I’m talking about net neutrality.

Net neutrality kept the big cable and internet providers — think AT&T, Comcast, Verizon — from treating some internet companies and their customers “more equally than others,” as George Orwell once put it.

Because government licenses wireless, telecommunications and, in some cases, local cable distribution, it is not truly a free market where the barriers to entry are low and anyone can join in.

So net neutrality started off as a way to make sure that former Bell companies, once they began to merge into the telecom companies we see today, could not unfairly discriminate against competing services and small start-up business.

Over both Republican and Democrat administrations, net neutrality was accepted in one form or another.

The Obama Administration implemented a tough net neutrality the courts actually upheld.

Now many on the right say because Obama pushed this, it’s bad.

Well, that is not smart thinking.

The current FCC took the approach, “Obama did it, so we got to kill it.”

The problem, though, is that just handful of companies now control most of the internet, cable and wireless access in the nation.

It is important to remember that Obama pushed through net neutrality over the objections of big liberal media companies like Comcast, which owns MSNBC.

You see net neutrality protects conservatives (and even liberals), and every content player on the web.

The FCC needs to play a role here because the business of internet service providers is not a free market. Some 68 million Americans get internet service from just one of two cable companies. Few Americans have more than two internet providers to choose from. And two wireless companies control 70 percent of that market.

Basically, net neutrality tells these major internet providers: you cannot treat content and other websites unfairly and you can’t squelch their bandwidth, everyone gets equal access.

The truth is that big companies often behave very badly.

Remember in 2016 when Google pushed all of Donald Trump’s campaign emails into their Gmail users' “junk mail” accounts and Hillary’s campaign emails went directly into the inbox of users? A few toggles at Google’s headquarters and they cost Trump’s campaign millions of dollars and an invaluable loss of vital messaging.

You’re reading this column right now because somebody, somewhere was willing to publish a conservative voice like mine. Those voices have thrived in an era of net neutrality.

But if Comcast, the owner of NBC and MSNBC, and other Big Cable cronies are able to put the squeeze on the internet’s carotid, how long do you think it will be before conservative outlets like Fox News or Newsmax gradually begin to disappear, quietly muffled by broadband throttling?

And sites like Breitbart, RushLimbaugh.com, The Daily Caller, and the Drudge Report won’t have a prayer either.

A few key strokes at Comcast’s master control, and they can make it take a lot of time for you ever to open a conservative website.

And when Donald Trump has a national speech and asks people to go to his website to donate, oh boy, my guess is that page will take a long time to load!

Frankly, we can’t let a small number of liberal-leaning internet service providers control the data flow of the nation. And what’s happened to free internet access over the years is downright Orwellian.

Consider: Since net neutrality took effect in 2015, the internet has been growing like never before. Over 22 million Americans “cut the cable cord” last year alone, in large part because net neutrality gave consumers new ways to get the programming they want, at cheaper prices than cable.

All of these new streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Roku and others depend on a free and open internet.

The obvious question: If internet technology was moving along so well, why mess with it?

Last December, unable to abide the fact that technology’s onward march was continuing unabated, the FCC stepped in.

By a narrow 3 to 2 vote, it ordered that net neutrality — the guarantee of equal access for all internet customers, at equal rates and speeds — be scrapped.

The backlash to the FCC’s move was so strong that the Senate in May voted on a bipartisan basis to step in and overrule the agency’s decision. Even Republicans voted for the repeal.

And supporting that move was a wide range of U.S. firms ranging from Burger King to Sonos to ADT to Etsy, as did the National Association of Realtors.

John Arensmeyer, chief executive of the Small Business Majority organization, said the vote “helps ensure fair and equal access to broadband for both entrepreneurs and consumers alike.”

Polls show American consumers overwhelmingly agree.

A survey by the University of Maryland, for example, found a staggering 83 percent of registered voters favor the preservation of the net neutrality structure. That includes 3 out of 4 Republicans, almost 9 out of 10 Democrats, and 86 percent of independents.

The sentiment is especially strong among Millennials and voters in districts where Republican incumbents appear to be at risk.

Want Republicans to lose control of Congress in November? Just ignore the wishes of 8 out of 10 voters — seems to me like a sure-fire way to do it.

But beyond the vagaries of public opinion, there’s a much more compelling reason to support the preservation of the neutrality of the internet.

And that’s your unfettered access to ideas and opinions that might run counter to the story you get in the mainstream media.

The good news is there’s still time to reverse this ill-advised attempt to throttle equality on the internet.

Under the Congressional Review Act, the Senate and House can vote to block any agency directive. The Senate has already done so.

Now, pro-net neutrality forces in the House only need about 40 more members to support an effort to bring the question to a vote. That would put them over the 218 signatures needed on a discharge petition that would bring the issue to a vote.

Once that happens, only 218 votes are needed to pass it.

If you want to protect free and unfettered access to the internet and have a check against several powerful corporations controlling the blood flow of the internet, let your Congressman know you back net neutrality.

Heed Ronald Reagan’s sage advice to “Trust but verify” — and call, write, or email your member of Congress today.

Michael Reagan, the eldest son of President Reagan, is a Newsmax TV analyst. A syndicated columnist and author, he chairs The Reagan Legacy Foundation. Michael is an in-demand speaker with Premiere speaker’s bureau. Read more reports from Michael Reagan — Go Here Now.

© Mike Reagan

   
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Net neutrality kept the big cable and internet providers — think AT&T, Comcast, Verizon — from treating some internet companies and their customers “more equally than others,” as George Orwell once put it.
net neutrality, conservatives, fcc, regulation
1220
2018-04-05
Wednesday, 05 September 2018 11:04 AM
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