Today, the FCC formally released their previously-declared “net neutrality” rules. While there is much for the digerati to discuss and parse in the 400-page document, the main reason why I bring attention to the order is regarding the hyperventilated concept that the Obama Administration is overtly taking over the Internet with these rules (as somewhat opined upon by a commissioner’s own dissent).
If you scroll down into the document to paragraph 543 (and forward), this begins the order’s explanation on “CONSTITUTIONAL CONSIDERATIONS.” It’s actually not all that onerous to read and reading these paragraphs for yourself can help you become a more informed citizen (especially as we’ll soon be entering the FCC’s open comments period and we’re still some months away from when the order is enforced).
Please notice that there is nowhere in this document that shows any way for the government — no matter who’s President — to be able to somehow curtail, coerce or otherwise keep editorial content — much less blogs, per se — from being seen by the public at large.
In fact, please understand that there is a definite separation in this document — much less at the FCC — between actual content and data. As the order explains, the First Amendment, for example, controls content; it does not control data, and data is what the FCC is attempting to oversee.
This is an important distinction as there is no way in which an Internet Service Provider (ISP) can be legitimately controlling content when all that an ISP does is manage data, and so therefore cannot even be construed as being an editor for content.
Therefore, by definition, there is nothing in the order that speaks to President Obama taking over the Internet, nor is there anything that stipulates that somehow bloggers (or any other content producers, for that matter) are any more or less restricted in what we can do.
Now do I agree with everything else within the document that covers actual data management? I can’t say that I do, but that’s not my point for this posting.
My point is — don’t always believe the hype, whether from talking heads or even commissioners (who should otherwise know better by virtue of being responsible for such orders). When possible, look at the content yourself to make informed decisions.