Friday, December 21, 2007

The Federal Government's Assault on Internet Freedom

For years now governments in closed societies such as North Korea and China have recognized the power of the Internet when it comes to amplifying the voices of dissent against the seats of power in which they sit. That is why they have restricted the use of the Internet and in some cases banned the Internet entirely.

The message that the United States Federal Government is attempting to send the big boys of the telecommunications industry in recent months is essentially, “Hey, we got your back.” There are three significant events in the legislative branch on the topic of the Internet in recent months that deserve the attention of the public.

The first and most recent development is that the Senate has moved closer to passing a bill that would make large telecommunications companies such as Verizon immune from lawsuits for their cooperation with the Federal Government’s illegal wiretapping of American citizens. This bill would allow the NSA to eavesdrop on phone and internet communications with very limited court oversight, and absolutely no warrant would be necessary if “surveillance (is) directed at a person reasonably believed to be located outside of the United States."

This more recent bill when considered along side House Resolution 1955(which would assemble a committee that would be assigned to studying the origins of homegrown terrorism) has led some to believe that they would essentially be building a case to enact legislation to tighten up the free and open media in the United States which is already under threat. This war would be waged against generally smaller, independent forms of media and would be justified under the guise of defending against homegrown terrorism.

House Resolution 1959 has this to say about Internet use in the United States:

“The Internet has aided in facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States by providing access to broad and constant streams of terrorist-related propaganda to United States citizens.”

Congressman and Presidential candidate Ron Paul reacted to this portion of the bill by saying this in a speech on the House floor:

“The legislation specifically singles out the Internet for facilitating violent radicalization, ideologically based violence, and the homegrown terrorism process in the United States. Such language may well be the first step toward US government regulation of what we are allowed to access on the Internet. Are we, for our own good, to be subjected to the kind of governmental control of the Internet that we see in unfree societies? This bill certainly sets us on that course.”

The third prong of this attack that is recently moving forward is the relaxing of rules by the FCC, which would allow companies in large markets to own both a major newspaper as well as a major television channel.

So as the independent voices on the Internet come under threat, the FCC strengthens the control of institutions that already have an amplified voice that is far reaching.

An example of this taking place on a national scale is Ruppert Murdoch(owner of New Corp. which owns Fox News, who just last week assumed control of the Wall Street Journal, not hiding the fact that he will be using a “hands on” approach.

Ron Paul is the only candidate that is opposed to regulating the Internet. The supporters of regulating the Internet are sure to use examples of children being “bullied” on the Internet (in addition to the terrorist angle). While these are legitimate concerns, these cases very often involve minors, and when it comes to regulating the Internet for minors it is the parent or legal guardian’s job not the job of the Federal Government. The real goal of the Federal Government here is to beat back the dissent that is beginning to have a widespread voice in this country because of organization on the Internet. They think the Internet is great as long as it stays in its intended realm, which is e-commerce.

The establishment across the spectrum is terrified by what they see the Ron Paul campaign accomplishing on the Internet by being the rallying point for dissenters. The success of the Paul campaign is proof that the Internet is still in its Wild West era and it is in the best interest of civil liberties in this country that we keep it that way forever.


MrB398 said...
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Donelle said...
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