As the FCC prepares to vote today on reclassifying the Internet as a government utility, signs have appeared around Washington DC and Georgetown featuring the image of Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler next to the words “boot licker”.
The posters also feature the words “Obama’s bitch,” in the background, which is likely a reference to how Wheeler changed course and followed Obama’s directives on net neutrality after the President featured in a YouTube video on the subject, despite the fact that the FCC is supposed to be an independent agency.
Stop signs outside Wheeler’s house were also amended with stickers that read “Stop Wheeler — Don’t Brake the Internet’ [sic].
Wheeler refused to testify before Congress this week as he prepares to green light a 332 page “administrative law” which remains completely secret. The FCC chairman even issued a gag order on the release of the document to prevent it from being leaked before the vote.
In the name of preserving “net neutrality,” a problem which critics say doesn’t exist, the Internet is set to be placed under Title II of the Telecommunications Act, which could grease the skids for onerous levels of state control and regulation over the world wide web, including mandatory licensing for website owners and the creation of a de facto ‘fairness doctrine’ for the web under which free speech would be strangled.
Republicans fear that the move could lead to United Nations control of the Internet, giving nations like Russia and China, which routinely censor anti-government information, more leeway over how the world wide web operates.
Although many liberals and techies have supported “net neutrality” with good intentions, critics fear that the White House is using it as a trojan horse via which to implement draconian regulatory measures that it has failed to achieve through cybersecurity legislation.
According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, one of the few Americans to have actually seen the 332 page plan, the new rules mark “a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet,” while handing “the FCC the power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works.”
It does seem bizarre that activists who railed against SOPA and PIPA are so casual in trusting an administration which has proven itself to be the most antagonistic in White House history when it comes to whistleblowing and the free flow of information with control over the Internet.