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When regimes capture power, it’s often not in the dramatic fashion of the storming of the Bastille. Instead, it’s a bureaucratic takeover, hidden in jargon and filled with clichés, for the greater good. The Federal Communications Commission is poised to vote today on a sweeping set of new rules called the “Preventing Digital Discrimination Order.”
The 200-page report recommends implementing an exhaustive array of new restrictions that will alter the internet forever. It springs from section 60506 of the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act 2021. This legislation was meant to infuse some federal dollars into America’s sagging internet infrastructure. Unfortunately, this vote will grant the FCC the power to control nearly every aspect of internet infrastructure in the name of our secular gods of diversity, equity, and inclusion.
The TL;DR of the obtuse rules is the ability to censor, control, and regulate internet service providers based on vague laws around equity. Most disturbing is that it doesn’t have to be "discrimination" as it’s generally understood but rather "disparate outcomes," meaning all internet infrastructure must produce perfect equity or face the wrath of the United States government.
The agency's unelected officials will convene to deliberate on regulations to integrate the latest progressive ideals regarding race and identity into the internet landscape. It’s expected to pass 3-2. It will stifle innovation and impede internet access opportunities, all in pursuit of achieving equity.
If approved, this would mark the first time the FCC would gain the authority to oversee various aspects of every ISP's service termination policies, including customer credit usage, account history, credit checks, and account termination, among other related matters.
Experts have been sounding the alarm about what this could mean for internet freedom.
Even FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr has blasted the power-grab, calling it a free pass giving the "administrative state effective control of all internet services and infrastructure."
"President Biden has called on the FCC to adopt new rules of breathtaking scope," Carr noted on X, formerly Twitter. "Those rules would give the federal government a roving mandate to micromanage nearly every aspect of how the Internet functions — from how ISPs allocate capital and where they build, to the services that consumers can purchase; from the profits that ISPs can realize and how they market and advertise services to the discounts and promotions that consumers can receive."
“The FCC reserves the right under this plan to regulate both 'actions and omissions, whether recurring or a single instance.' In other words, if you take any action, you may be liable, and if you do nothing, you may be liable. There is no path to complying with this standardless regime. It reads like a planning document drawn up in the faculty lounge of a university’s Soviet Studies Department.”
These regulators have established a framework that could penalize any organization seeking to enhance internet accessibility or provide internet services if the agency determines that it did so in a manner that facilitates discrimination. Whatever the regulators decide that means.
Ranking Member Ted Cruz (R-Texas) of the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee, along with 27 fellow senators, is urging the Federal Communications Commission to withdraw its preliminary proposal regarding "Digital Discrimination." This proposal would grant the federal government significant influence over virtually every facet of the internet, potentially subjecting broadband providers to extensive, vague, and detrimental liability under a "disparate impact" standard.
In a letter to FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel, the senators wrote:
“Your Draft Order, which largely follows a Biden administration diktat, will create crippling uncertainty for the U.S. broadband industry, chill broadband investment, and undermine Congress’s objective of promoting broadband access for all Americans. We urge you to adhere to the will of Congress and conform to the plain meaning of [the bipartisan infrastructure bill] to avoid causing serious damage to the competitive and innovative U.S. broadband industry.”
Net neutrality back door
This power-grab is also a de facto attempt to bring back net neutrality. Net neutrality, with its burdensome and intrusive regulations, hinders the internet's natural evolution. The internet has thrived remarkably well without the heavy hand of net neutrality oversight. Moreover, these regulations prevent internet service providers from rightfully charging substantial fees to content giants like video streaming platforms, which are voraciously consuming bandwidth. By prohibiting these fees, net neutrality shifts the responsibility of expanding network capacity entirely onto individuals and away from giant tech platforms.
This, in turn, is expected to result in higher costs for consumers, as they will be forced to bear the burden of more expensive internet packages, even if they don't use these data-intensive streaming services. As it stands, net neutrality stifles innovation, undermines market forces, and ultimately harms consumers and the internet ecosystem. The idea that they would resurrect these onerous rules through the back door is no less worrying just because it isn’t surprising.
The one silver lining to this is that the disparate impact rules they cite to justify the power-grab have been struck down by the Supreme Court. There will no doubt be immediate lawsuits to try to fight these rules. Across varying industries and government entities, a concerted effort exists to curtail your freedom. From COVID lockdowns to tech censorship, expansive regulations, gun laws, and the jailing of political dissidents, the underlying result is curtailing your freedoms. The regime knows a free internet is one of the last tools the American people have left, which is why it tries to control it at every turn.
Editor's note: The FCC passed these rules on November 15 in a 3-2 vote to radically transform the internet.
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Managing Editor, Return
Peter Gietl is the managing editor for Return.