Speaker Boehner addressed several tech points in his speech to the National Association of Religious Broadcasters on Sunday. He railed against Net Neutrality and new FCC regulations that he characterized as a government takeover of the Internet. He went on to say:
“Now, you know the old saying: ‘If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.’ Well in Washington, it’s more like, ‘If you can’t beat ’em, tax ’em and regulate ’em,” Boehner said in his speech. “So, some members of Congress and the federal bureaucracy are still trying to reinstate – and even expand – the Fairness Doctrine. To them, it’s fair to silence ideas and voices they don’t agree with, and use the tools of government to do it. “
Opposing Net Neutrality has been pretty standard Republican boilerplate. Much like with the healthcare debate, the GOP prefers that corporations make decisions for consumers rather than the government. The new twist here is the conflation of Net Neutrality with the Fairness Doctrine.
The Fairness Doctrine was introduced in 1949 and required that broadcasters present controversial issues of public importance in a manner that was honest, equitable and balanced. Reagan overturned the policy by executive order in 1987.
Republicans are apparently afraid the Internet might become a place of fair and balanced treatment of controversial issues. This is a confounding stance, not to mention that the distributed nature of content creators on the Internet would make such a rule impossible to enforce. Yet the larger issue is that Net Neutrality has absolutely nothing to do with editorial content.
Net Neutrality simply guarantees that the ISPs who provide the backbone for and access to the Internet cannot preferentially treat one content type over another. This assures that you have equally speedy access to Fox Nation and the Huffington Post. It means your access to Netflix won’t be throttled by Time Warner, or that Comcast will cut a deal with Microsoft to make Bing twice as fast as Google.
There is nothing about any proposed or existing Net Neutrality rules that in any way attempts to legislate editorial content on the web. Nothing. Tying Net Neutrality to the Fairness Doctrine is either an act of colossal ignorance or a blatant attempt to mislead and confuse voters.
We report, you decide.