The afternoon session, Internet Freedom: Washington's Internet Takeover, further emphasized Rep. Marsha Blackburn's comments during the opening session - that this is a critical issue for the future.
As John Fund of the Wall Street Journal stated, the issue of Net Neutrality started with Robert W. McChesney and his organization, Free Press, who have a goal of eliminating private ownership of phone, cable and Internet/wireless companies and replacing them with government ownership/control.
Fund explained how it works. McChesney's, and other supporting organizations are funded by such groups as MoveOn.org, Pew Charitable Trusts, George Soros's Open Society, the Ford Foundation and the MacArthur Foundation - all left-leaning organizations that support Net Neutrality. So when President Obama is elected, he decides to do an 'independent' review of the issue. He then stacks the review with representatives of the funding groups, who then quote their own information and research and issue a report. The FCC then bases their conclusions about Net Neutrality on that report and, not surprisingly, agree completely with these leftists that the only 'solution' to a future problem is to implement Net Neutrality.
On December 2010, Blackburn said, the FCC passed the Net Neutrality Order. As of today, six months later, they still have not published their order in the record - but the rules are being enforced. There is still a vote in Congress to defeat Net Neutrality and, Blackburn explains, only four more votes are needed to ensure the defeat.
Blackburn warned that this order has chilling effects on the future economic growth of the nation. She said that New Neutrality is "insidious" as it will end up restricting availability to broadband and access to high-speed Internet. She also said that a problem we have is in explaining just how bad this warm, fuzzy-sounding concept actually is.
She recommended two phrases which are accurate and can help individuals explain to their friends and family what Net Neutrality consists of: a 'fairness doctrine' for the Internet and price controls. Basically, Blackburn said, Net Neutrality will put the government in control of assigning priorities for all transactions and they will be in charge of telling companies what can be charged (or not) for what you're getting over the Internet. When people understand that Net Neutrality is the Fairness Doctrine for the Internet, they will reject it just as they did the Fairness Doctrine.
Crews, the last speaker, boiled the issue down explaining that government and Net Neutrality supporters are under the mistaken impression that phone/cable companies are 'blocking' certain traffic on the Internet. They conclude that these companies are so large and so powerful that they are capable of abusing the system. While there is no evidence that such abuse is actually happening, he said, that hasn't stopped them from advancing a 'pre-emptive strike' against what they say *may* occur. Despite no evidence of there actually being a problem, the FCC is advancing a government solution.
I must admit to not being as well-versed in the issue as I would like and you may agree with many Net Neutrality supporters that there is an actual problem. But hopefully you will agree that putting government (an even larger, more intrusive and less accountable entity than any Internet provider) in charge is not the solution.
In the end, I think it boils down to an issue of private property rights: either you believe that the Internet companies own their systems and can charge for their use; or you believe that no private property exists, that government should control anything done on the Internet and also dictate the terms of both delivery and usage.
If you want to download and watch movies on the Internet, using more bandwidth than someone who doesn't do such downloads, there's no reason why a company shouldn't be able to charge you more. After all, if you want to go see a movie in the theater versus waiting for it to come out on DVD and be available at your local video rental store, you're going to pay more. It's a basic concept in our capitalistic society.
But if you're like McChesney and believe, like Karl Marx, that government should control the means of production, you'll probably support the Net Neutrality order and legislation.