Sunday, October 23, 2016

Internet Regulation

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facebook live

When a woman used Facebook Live to show the aftermath of the police shooting a black man in a car with a crying child in the back, the world took notice.

The video fueled the hate of Micah X who killed five Dallas officers and wounded six more.

The ISIS supporter who shot up an Orlando nightclub also used Facebook supposedly to promote his allegiance to the terrorist organization.

The Internet is changing how we interact with one another and how we consume news, but more importantly it is changing our sense of what is right and wrong.

The judicial system moves too slowly for the court of public opinion. Social media moves so much faster.

Look what happened last summer. Michael Brown was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Missouri. “Eye witnesses” claimed that Michael Brown was shot with his hands up screaming “don’t shoot”. The term “hands up, don’t shoot” went viral.

The news spread like wildfire and Obama weighed in before all the facts were gathered. Riots ensued and protest sprung up around the country, even though a grand jury would eventually find the officer innocent.

Fast-forward one year. Cops in Baton Rouge killed a black man selling CD’s in front of a convenience store. The video was instantly shared online and became viral.

Within 24-hours, a Facebook Live video became viral after another black man was shot by an officer.

Americans saw the crime with their own eyes. They saw Philando Castile die on Facebook Live. And we saw the video of Alton Sterling in shock and dying after being shot point blank range in the chest.

Opinions were made quickly and in the wake of a sniper killing five officers in Dallas, the divide in this great nation is growing quicker by the minute.

Protests, riots, arrests, shootings and we are seeing a level of outrage on both sides that we have not seen in a long time.

What would happen if the Orlando shooter who swore allegiance to ISIS turned on Facebook Live and streamed his killings live? Is that something we really want to see? I don’t want to see that, but I also don’t want someone else deciding what I can and cannot see.

The Internet has become dangerous to the powers that be and it is live streaming that scares them the most. In the case of Philando, without the Facebook Live recording there is a very good chance that the officer would not face charges. He still might not; we don’t know the full story.

What we do know is that because of the video, the officer who shot Philando has had death threats and is on paid leave. The Facebook Live video changed the story and that kind of power scares the people who have the power.

Theoretically, anybody with a smart phone with a video camera and Facebook can live stream breaking news that could alter the world. What if one of the Zodiac Killer victims was using Facebook Live during an attack? Do you think people would still think that Bernie Sanders is the Zodiac Killer?

Facebook Live offers a unique challenge for police officers who need to do a job, and now everywhere they go, people are shoving cameras and phones in their face trying to record or stream the next viral video of police brutality. Citizen journalists are making it hard for police to do their job.

What could be next? Will there be new regulations proposed to stop people from being horrified and haunted by watching people die in videos?

It is possible the police will either be given a device that can temporarily neutralize phones for a short period or there will be heavy regulations on streaming put in place.

We know the Democrats want to take our guns away, but could the bigger play be to take control of the information we see on the Internet?

Do you think that people should have the right to make up their own mind if they want to watch something or not? Let us know in the comments below.

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With the Federal Communication’s Commission close to their decision on Net Neutrality, the public comment period has now closed with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) on a proposed rule that would limit online speech.

The proposed rules would categorize the work of bloggers, YouTubers and basically anyone with an online voice as a political contribution.

How the FEC plans to collect that data and determine a hard value is unclear.

The free-market organization, Our Generation, submitted public comments by the January 15th deadline opposing rules that ultimately apply more regulation to the Internet.

The organization stated in its comments:

“Our Generation asserts that the Internet should continue to remain a robust and vibrant space for political discussion and in its comments urged the Commission to continue to take a ‘hands off approach.’ Any rules the Commission promulgates must respect the First Amendment and not infringe upon the rights of citizens to engage in constitutionally protected speech.”

In the wake of the Citizens United and McCutcheon Supreme Court rulings, democrats have expressed outrage of their inability to stop the “tsunami of ‘dark money’” flowing into politics.

In October of 2014, Jon Bonifaz, the president of a left-leaning advocacy group expressed his frustration:

“Now, this decision by the majority of the commission only exacerbates the threat posed by the Citizens United ruling. It does nothing to address the real need for disclosure of this dark money that is now coming into our elections in the hundreds of millions of dollars.”

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Obama Plane

In an escalating war of words between the White House and Republican leaders in Congress, the president’s advisors asserted Thursday that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) already has the power to regulate the Internet as a utility and that Congress would play no role in net neutrality debate.

The issue comes down to executive overreach and the meaning of words being used by both sides in the struggle keeps the Internet free of government regulation.

One definition of net neutrality used by the White House would define the Internet as a utility with all the regulatory control that means including taxation, fees, easements and all of the other costs that consumers currently see on their phone and cable bills.

The other definition used by Congress would to be reflected in law.

The legislation now working its way through Congress would prevent the FCC from regulating the Internet as a utility while placing certain standards on internet service providers that proponents say will address White House concerns over fair access to the Internet especially in rural areas and poor inner-city consumers.

Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Representative Fred Upton, chairmen of the Commerce Committees in their respective chambers, are circulating legislation to reflect “net neutral” principles on broadband providers including bans on throttled connection speeds, blocking websites and the fees and taxes imagined in the president’s plan.

Republicans have asked for a delay in FCC action on the issue now planned for Feb. 26 but FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has indicated no interest in such a change. In a statement released by FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart:

“Chairman Wheeler believes it is important to move forward as quickly as possible to protect consumers, innovation and competition online.”

This statement in odd in one respect.

During last year’s public comment period on proposed regulation of the Internet by the FCC, the public interest group American Commitment with Liberty News Now and Citizen Action generated more than 700,000 unique public comments opposing the FCC plan – the largest number of public comments ever sent to a regulatory agency over any other issue in history.

The question then is this. Which consumers is Chairman Wheeler trying to protect?

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Net Neutrality

Commenters on the popular forum Reddit were left shocked after the release of a study by the Sunlight Foundation proving that one group, American Commitment, was able to organize nearly 800,000 public comments to the Federal Communications Commission opposing regulation of the Internet.

Reddit was an official participant in the “Battle for the Net” which supported Internet regulation.

Reddit fans, known for their mob mentality were quick to question the report despite the facts presented in the report.

One Redditter, K7Avender, commented, “How could they by themselves have gotten more comments than the popular social medias combined? How could there be more comments by people who don’t understand the internet—who barely use the internet—than comments by people who do understand the internet and who use it the most?”

Another comment of the 1,300+ on this single thread piled on the stereotype that the people opposed Net Neutrality are essentially luddites:

“You don’t need bots when you can use a few well chosen trigger words to mobilize an army of the ill-informed. They may not know much of anything about the internet, but they sure as hell don’t want ‘Obama to regulate and tax it.’”

As the comments scrolled on, one post by KBassma made it clear why Reddit fans are so passionate about the issue, “I am only as smart and as well read as I am because of the internet. If I lose it I lose myself.”


In reading through just a portion of the 1,300 posts, a dominant theme began to form.

The supporters of Net Neutrality on Reddit have no clue what they’re talking about.

Some claim that censorship will be increased if the government DOESN’T take control of the Internet. Huh?

Others cite the well known “fast lane” argument yet would prefer advancement of Internet technology be left for the approval of government bureaucrats.

Few Reddit users can come to the simple realization that restricting the Internet under telecom regulations from the 1930’s may actually harm their ability to watch cat videos on YouTube.

In the event that President Obama is able to ram through Net Neutrality, Americans can expect innovation and advances of broadband delivery to come to a screeching halt.

Under the same Title II regulations that the President is pushing for the Internet, Caller ID took seven years to approve.

Would the left-leaning lovers of the Internet have accepted a seven-year delay to incorporate voice chat into their World of Warcraft sessions?

While many Reddit users enjoy using their time to whine amongst themselves in between eating Cheetos in their mother’s basement and producing low-quality cat videos, they should take time to educate themselves on this debate before they have a hand in destroying the thing they love the most.

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Lost Battle for the Net

On Tuesday, the Sunlight Foundation released its study of the public’s response to proposed Net Neutrality rules, also known as Internet Regulation.

Earlier this month, President Obama directly addressed the issue claiming that “the public has already commented nearly four million times” supporting the reclassification of the Internet as a “public utility.”

As it turns out, the President, and the Federal Communication Commission got the facts totally wrong.

For background, the FCC conducted two comment periods in which the public was asked to weigh in on the issue.

The first round resulted in 800,959 comments being submitted to the FCC.

Analysis by the Sunlight Foundation concluded that 99% of those comments were in favor of regulating the Internet and 60% of the comments were submitted through form letters.

In September of this year, the FCC conducted a second round of public comments.

Those in favor of allowing the government to take authority over the Internet led a campaign called the “Battle for the Net.”

The campaign was by all descriptions, massive, with over 40,000 organizations participating in the drive.

Some of the biggest online players signed on to promote the campaign including Netflix, Foursquare, Kickstarter, Reddit, Tumblr and Vimeo.

The 40,000 sites that participated, including the White House, placed a fake “buffering” widget on their sites as a scare tactic implying the Internet would be slowed to a crawl if the government was not able to regulate the Web.

The scare tactic led to hundreds of thousands of people sending comments to the FCC in favor of Internet Regulation.

The content providers and left-leaning organizations favoring Internet Regulation assumed that since they won “Round 1” with 99% support, they could handily shut the door on the matter in “Round 2.”

They were wrong.

In the Sunlight Foundation’s report released yesterday, the headline read, “One group dominates the second round of net neutrality comments.”

This “dominating” group is the seemingly small policy organization, American Commitment, led by free-market policy analyst Phil Kerpen.

While 1.4 million comments were submitted to the FCC in the second round of comments, 60% of the comments actually opposed Internet Regulation.

Nearly all of those comments, 56.5% of all comments submitted, were gathered through the efforts of American Commitment.

Note that this site, Liberty News Now, was a partner in the “Stop Internet Regulation” campaign.

The President’s comments were premature and delivered before the votes were counted and duplicates removed.

In the end, the majority of readers of Liberty News Now along with hundreds of thousands of others, when presented with the clear facts about Internet Regulation, chose against the new rules.

In total, the verified comments submitted by American Commitment totaled 728,000.

The backers of the “Battle for the Net” underestimated the organizing power of Phil Kerpen and the sentiment of the public.

Now that the facts are out, will President Obama correct the record?

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“’Net Neutrality’ is Obamacare for the Internet.” With this single phrase, Senator Ted Cruz has sparked one of the most heated debates about the future of the Internet since the Federal Communications Commission first released its Open Internet Order in 2010.

Proponents of the cleverly-named proposal known as “Net Neutrality” argue government regulation is needed in order to keep the Internet open and free, by preventing Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from establishing “Internet fast lanes” at premium costs. Opponents, including Cruz and many Internet experts, argue that opening the door to government regulation of ISPs in this way will stifle innovation, increase costs, and ultimately hurt consumers.

With some of the worst consumer satisfaction ratings nationwide, cable companies and ISPs seems to have gone out of their way to reinforce public perception that they care little about customer satisfaction and quality of service. This helps make Net Neutrality an easy sell to the public; advocates prey upon the fears and emotions of consumers — greedy ISP providers throttling internet access for more profit — then salves those fears with the siren song of government regulation.

However, this should not overshadow what we know for certain about government promises of protection; and it must not blind us to what Net Neutrality truly is: a 21st Century Trojan Horse filled with federal bureaucrats itching to control the single most powerful tool of the modern age — a free and unfettered Internet.

Net Neutrality is not some sort of trophy representing triumph over greedy cable and Internet companies. Rather, it is a sham promise by Obama to get inside the city gates. The real purpose is to mask what follows; just as the citizens of Troy discovered shortly after opening their city to what they mistakenly saw as a gift.

This is not the first time such a tactic has been used to massively expand the power of the federal government under the guise of protecting the public. Shortly after the 9/11 attacks, the also cleverly-named USA PATRIOT Act was sold as a way to protect citizens from terrorism; several years later, the Dodd-Frank Act was sold as consumer protection against Wall Street fraud; and, in the granddaddy of all federal panaceas, ObamaCare was sold as a plan to fix America’s healthcare system.

Not surprisingly, in none of these instances of federal “reform” did the promised manna fall from the heavens; and in every case, the supposedly “narrowly tailored” powers were expanded dramatically to sustain the government’s inevitable and insatiable appetite for control.

A similar fate is on the horizon for the Internet if Obama gets his way to implement “Net Neutrality.”

Departing from a long-standing tradition of “light-touch” regulation that has given ISPs the latitude to innovate and expand, Obama now wants the FCC to reclassify the Internet to bring it under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934. This regulatory regimen would strap ISPs with common-carrier regulations first drafted eight decades ago, and which are woefully inapplicable to either the technology or the markets of this early 21st Century.

It may seem counterintuitive to discuss deregulating an industry dominated by a small number of ISPs; but less regulation, not more of it, is the only way to bring about long-term changes in the industry without seriously the jeopardizing innovation and improvement that has made the Internet a super highway for economic and political freedom.

This phenomenon can be seen elsewhere. For decades, taxi cartels enjoyed an unchallenged monopoly on transportation services because they worked hand-in-hand with government regulators to keep out competition. It was only with the arrival of Uber and similar ride-sharing services that the paradigm finally began to shift in favor of the free market and the consumer.

Cable companies like Cox, Comcast, and others enjoy similar monopolies in local markets. However, as Erik Telford, senior vice president of the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity, notes, this is not the work of greedy capitalists, but of regulatory corruption. “Cable companies may hold local monopolies,”writes Telford, “but local governments and public utility commissions dictate this lack of competition through sweetheart deals designed to line the pockets of the city at the consumer’s expense.”

Giving more regulatory control to the government in the form of Net Neutrality will do nothing to address this problem. Rather, such a move will simply reinforce the cycle of “regulatory capture” that greases the skids for ever-increasing government control that limits options for all of us.

That Obama is attempting to effect such a far-reaching plan on his own, without the concurrence of Congress, should surprise no one; this President’s unshakeable arrogance makes such a course his default position. But the Republican House can stop him even before the new and also GOP-led Senate is sworn in next January. They can include an appropriations rider in the almost-certain omnibus reconciliation bill that prohibits any monies from being spent to implement Obama’s Net Neutrality. If that fails, they must do so as a first order of business in the new Congress. If they do not, the future of Internet freedom will become markedly less so.

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Looking for great deals for Cyber Monday?  Walmart and Amazon are the places to go, but before you shop, take a moment to reflect on the Internet backbone that you use to get those great deals.

No, your Cyber Monday purchases are not tax free, however if President Obama and the Federal Communications Commission get their way, you’ll have to pay an extra tax in your Internet bill thanks to new Net Neutrality rules that kick in with new legislation.

In 2015, your Cyber Monday shopping will very likely come with a new “poll tax” that Obama’s administration thinks is necessary to convert the Internet into a public utility.

For online shoppers in 20 states, this new Internet Tax will be in addition to their state’s sales tax.

For those Cyber Monday shoppers in the 30 other states, their online shopping will remain a tax-haven — at least until the FCC takes action.

In the meantime, take advantage of some of those great deals in 2014. Here are just a few:

Happy shopping  . . . for now.

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FCC piles on with confusing numbers on Net Neutrality comments.

Taking on the issue of Net Neutrality, President Obama addressed the nation via YouTube to push the government’s position for regulating the Internet.

In his public statement the President claimed that nearly four million people supported his position.

The statement is flatly false.  

Liberty News Now, partnered with the organization, American Commitment, conducted a campaign asking the public to oppose Net Neutrality.

Over 800,000 people responded to our campaign.

The FCC received four million comments. And we know that at least 800,000 actually oppose regulating the Internet because we tracked each comment and ensured they were submitted.

With that said, the FCC, which wants to regulate the Internet with new Net Neutrality rules, can’t even seem to get their math right.

Here’s an excerpt from their press release regarding public comments on Net Neutrality:

It is now well known that the FCC’s Open Internet docket is the most commented upon rulemaking in the agency’s history, with more than 3.9 million submissions to date.

Regardless of the method through which a comment was filed, every comment submitted has been made part of the official record of this proceeding.

In the interest of ensuring that the public has open access to the nearly 2.5 million reply comments that were filed during the official reply comment period (July 19-September 15), we are today releasing those reply comments in one zipped XML file. This file includes 725,169 comments the FCC received through ECFS and CSV file uploads and another 1,719,503 comments received via the email address, for a total of 2,444,672 comments received during that time period.  

Clearly, both Obama and the FCC have attempted to deceive the public on the issue of Net Neutrality, paving the way for new regulations, and new taxes that will impact how we work, entertain and communication in the future..



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