Government and Free Speech

This time in the milieu of the Internet. And it’s not good, if the FCC’s latest “rule” proposal is allowed to stand.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler went ahead with his proposal on Thursday to give his agency the power to decide whether the terms and prices of broadband Internet services are “reasonable.” That’s bad enough as political discretion, but according to dissenting Commissioner Ajit Pai, regulators from every state will also be able to get into the act.

Government, once again, is deciding that it’s better suited to determine what a proper business arrangement is than the participants in the business. Only this time, since it’s the Internet that’s at stake, and the Internet plays such an enormous role, not only in business per se, but in speech of all forms—political, business, communication of innovations, the list goes on—the FCC is plainly inserting itself into the business of government determiner of what appropriate speech is.

If this rule stands, government will be able to pass on the Internet-based “business arrangements” regarding, oh let’s say, a documentary called Hillary: The Movie. Worse, it’ll be able to do this, not overtly because it objects to the politics of the movie, but more sotto voce, under the guise of objecting to the appropriateness of the business arrangements surrounding its Internet distribution. And by allowing the States to get in on the censorship, the FCC is looking to broaden government…management…of permissible speech.

The Wall Street Journal‘s op-ed points out a myriad of other objections to this harebrained scheme of the FCC, but this will do for this post.

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