The ACLU is Wrong: Net Neutrality Is About Government Control of Internet Content

Editor’s Note: This piece first appeared in BigGovernment.com.

I sincerely hope followers of the Network Neutrality (NN) debate were wearing their seatbelts last week. The pro-NN Media Marxists’ rapid lurch in position on the issue would otherwise have ensured full chiropractor employment for a pronounced period of time.

What led to this The-Ends-Justify-Any-Means-Necessary backflip is the Cablevision-Fox dustup over fees Cablevision pays Fox to retransmit the latter’s programming. The two parties couldn’t reach an agreement, the contract elapsed and Fox pulled its channels from the Cablevision lineup.

Fox then went a step further, temporarily making some of its online content unavailable to Cablevision subscribers.

Let us be clear what happened here. The Content Provider (Fox) had prevented the Internet Service Provider (Cablevision) from access to its online content.

And after all, it is Fox’s property. They paid a LOT of money for its creation, development and deployment – they can do with it whatever they wish. They can offer it to whomever, or not offer it to anyone at all. If they want to withhold some or all of it from some or all people, that is their prerogative – especially when they are not being paid for it.

It is here that the pro-Net Neutrality crowd jumped the intellectual shark. Well, again. They asserted that Fox – by not giving away their property online – was in violation of the Media Marxists’ warped definition of NN.

And that Fox’s “violation” served as further “justification” for Federal Communications Commission (FCC)-mandated Net Neutrality – and the radical, extra-lawful Internet power grab they have been demanding the FCC make so as to commandeer the authority necessary to enact and enforce it.

(An investment-devastating move which the FCC may very well execute as soon as November 30th.)

FCC Commissioner Michael Copps said in a statement:

For a broadcaster to pull programming from the Internet for a cable company’s subscribers, as apparently happened here, directly threatens the open Internet.

And Art Brodsky, Director of Communications for Public Knowledge, wrote:

Fox committed what should be considered one of the grossest violations of the open Internet committed by a U.S. company….

In this case, of course, it’s the content provider that was doing the blocking…. (B)ut it shouldn’t matter who is keeping consumers away from the lawful content….

If one values the open Internet, however, there should be rules against that sort of thing, whether the blocking is done by the ISP or by a content provider….

Yes, it would be nice if someone (like the FCC) could step in and tell Fox that it is unacceptable to block Internet content.

For years these Leftists have been vociferously insisting that the enemies of NN are the evil Internet Service Providers – who would allegedly block access to online fare. And thusly Net Neutrality was required to stop them from so doing.

But by attempting to frame the Cablevision-Fox dispute in NN terms – by demanding that Fox give away its content to everyone – the pro-NN gaggle clearly demonstrates that this fight is not (just) about ACCESS to Internet content – it is about GOVERNMENT CONTROL of Internet content.

They seek to neutralize the Internet – by having the government control its content.

Of course, they have all along stridently asserted that Net Neutrality is not about this.

Right-wing media have falsely claimed that the net neutrality principle supported by the Obama administration is an attempt by the government to control Internet content. In fact, net neutrality does not mean government control of content on the Internet; rather, net neutrality ensures equal and open access for consumers and producers of content and applications…

But their demands of Fox clearly demonstrate that it is.

Yesterday, it was about access to content. Today, it’s the government demanding content providers give away the products they produce.

Tomorrow, it will be the government demanding content providers pull from the Web the products they produce. Shutting you up by insisting you shut it down.

After all, government control is government control. Once they have it, they have it all the way.

How pathetically sad it is that the ACLU – the alleged champion of the First Amendment – has so readily sacrificed it on the altar of Leftist ideology. And done so in such an intellectually vacuous fashion – the First Amendment protects us from GOVERNMENT censorship, not the actions of private companies or individuals.

To say that force feeding the nation Net Neutrality is a First Amendment imperative is both factually and morally bankrupt.