Tomorrow July 12th you will probably be asked by a well meaning friend or perhaps someone that works for a progressive activist group to call or write your congressman and ask them to support “net neutrality.” IMHO I think you will be making a mistake.
I really don’t give a shit if I get flamed on this. I’ve been flamed plenty in the last 5 years fighting for artists’ rights. Most of the time it turned out that my instincts were correct. I’m gonna call it as I see it again.
Inconvenient Fact #1: Rule change does not end net neutrality.
True or False? The new rules proposed by the FCC will end net neutrality.
I know this is hard to swallow based on everything you’ve read on the internet . But just do this…
Did you look at the form letter you are being asked to send to your congressman, or the talking points script you’re supposed to use for that phone call? It says something about “Title II regulation” right? What is being proposed is dropping Title II regulation of the internet. Not ending net neutrality. Dropping Title II means the FTC not the FCC is now back in charge of net neutrality. Like it was from 2007-2014. Was your internet broken then? Remember in 2012 these exact same groups were shouting “Don’t Break the Internet” when the SOPA anti-piracy legislation was proposed. Even they admit the internet was pretty darn good in 2012. Worst case scenario the internet goes back to 2014.
So what is this really about?
It’s not about net neutrality that’s for sure. This is really a skirmish between two sets of crony capitalists. Telecoms/Cable on one side and the Google/Facebook/Silicon Valley ad-spying complex on the other. Title II forces telecoms and cable to live under a bunch of rules that benefits Google, Facebook and their online ad/spying ecosystem. It also gives the FCC extraordinary powers to regulate the internet.
In this case the last FCC commission used that extraordinary power to impose stringent rules to protect net neutrality. But Title II could actually go the other way. The FCC could also use their extraordinary power to impose all sorts of bad things on the internet as well. Think about the power the FCC has over terrestrial TV radio on foul language? It’s quite interesting that FCC chairman Ajit Pai is divesting the FCC of this power. Meanwhile free speech advocates want the FCC to retain this power. It’s absolutely ass backwards. And when things are this ass backwards, when the doublespeak is this blatant it’s usually cause your individual rights are in great danger.
In order to save free speech on the internet we have to put the FCC in charge of speech on the internet.
Follow the Money/Lobbyists
There are two main groups that are pushing the net neutrality issue tomorrow. One group is Fight For The Future. The other is Free Press. Let’s start with Fight For The Future.
Fight for the Future looks like a groovy progressive internet civil rights group. They even have a transgender spokesperson! The problem is that when you look at tax documents, FOIA-ed emails and their past activity you get a totally different picture.
Inconvenient Fact 2: Fight For The Future is run by a Google lawyer.
Marvin Ammori runs Fight For The Future. He is a former (current?) Google lawyer. The Google Transparency Project also lists him as a “Google Funded Academic”
Inconvenient Fact 2: The main financial backer of Fight For The Future is a mysterious firm based in an industrial park in a small town in Michigan.
Just read our stories on Fight For The Future and its mysterious sugar daddy. This tiny tidbit here deserves its own Hollywood film treatment or Netflix series. It’s that juicy and weird.
Main takeaway: Does a radical cyber-libertarian, bitcoin promoter, the founder of Mt Gox Live, seem like the sort of person that shares the progressive lefty values espoused by Fight For The Future? What the fuck is really going on here.
Inconvenient Fact 3: Fight For The Future Organized a Mass Copyright Infringement Campaign Against the MLK Estate.
Yup. You read that right. Fight For The Future thinks it’s a valid and righteous civil disobedience campaign, to fuck with the King Family Estate to make some decidely first world point about not being able to post/remix the MLK I Have A Dream speech on YouTube.
The uncomfortable parallel here is that one of the classic tools of authoritarian regimes has been to deprive dissident authors of their copyrights.
Inconvenient Fact 4: Ammori, Fight For The Future, and FCC staff likely manipulated the comment count on Net Neutrality in 2014 to favor pro neutrality comments. FFTF even instructed the FCC what to Tweet. And the FCC obliged.
I don’t really know what to say. Just read the FOIA-ed emails here:
This is your democracy. This is your democracy after Google runs hog wild with it.
Inconvenient Fact #5: Venezuela
Free Press is the other organization pushing the net neutrality issue. They are the folks in all the photo op protests outside the FCC. I’m not trying to red bait anyone but there is no other way to describe this. Free Press is led by an authoritarian Marxist. This is not your grumpy uncle Bernie Sanders democratic socialism. Bernie Sanders is a patriotic American that wants the best for his country. I completely disagree with most of his politics, but he is not trying to overthrow the government and doesn’t go around praising authoritarian dictators.
The same can not be said for Robert McChesney founder of Free Press. McChesney is an internationalist and authoritarian Marxist.
Here is McChesney in 2007 on Hugo Chavez and the media in Venezuela:
“Aggressive unqualified political dissent is alive and well in the Venezuelan mainstream media, in a manner few other democratic nations have ever known, including our own.” This comment was made in response to Chavez revoking the license of the main opposition TV network.
He goes on to say “If (critical of Hugo Chavez Venezuelan station) RCTV were broadcasting in the United States, its license would have been revoked years ago. In fact its owners would likely have been tried for criminal offenses, including treason.”
(Venezuela and the Media: Fact and Fiction – Common Dreams, June 1, 2007)
Around this time McChesney also said this:
“Any serious effort to reform the media system (in the US) would have to necessarily be part of a revolutionary program to overthrow the capitalist system itself.”
(The U.S. Media Reform Movement – Monthly Review, September 15, 2008)
FreePress actually is the most honest participant here. They want the government to seize control of the internet so that later when a “revolutionary socialist” government is in power they will have full control. Perfectly coherent.
Why is this important? Because Free Press is far far outside the mainstream of US politics, yet these are the folks that dreamed up the entire Tittle II/net neutrality hoax in the first place. It was literally part of a plan explicitly outlined by McChesney in 2009
“At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”
I don’t know about you but I’d rather live in a liberal democracy than in a country like Venezuela. I think that most people in the US feel that way. McChesney has a vision that is incompatible with what most Americans want. Be aware that when considering Title II regulation of the internet.
Here’s also an earlier piece I wrote just concerning Net Neutrality and copyright. It explains my evolution on the issue. Also good gif of FCC chairman dancing.
Also here are two center left and center right technical critiques of net neutrality that everyone should read. Sorry they are rather technical, but this is a technical issue. Reality is hard to accurately reduce to a slogan or meme.