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A ‘Net loss – The Augusta Chronicle

Bureaucrats have dragged the Internet kicking and screaming into the 1930s.

It s bad enough the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 Thursday to control 21st-century broadband providers like 20th-century utilities a plan better known by the warm-and-fuzzy net neutrality slogan.

What s profoundly depressing and utterly stupefying is how many supposedly freedom-loving Americans actually cheered for the bureaucrats.

Never before have we seen so many sheep eager to be fenced in.

Honestly, aside from The Six Million Dollar Man, when has government intervention made anything better, stronger or faster?

Even Steve Austin, the fictional astronaut with bionic vision, would have trouble seeing how regulating ISPs under old telephone-company rules protects consumers.

That s because it doesn t.

Aside from apparently wanting to put more aspects of American life under its thumb, the Obama administration s big fear seemed to be that ISPs, such as AT&T, Comcast and Verizon, would violate net neutrality by charging large, deep-pocketed users, such as Google, Facebook and Netflix, more money to move their ever-expanding amount of data quickly and reliably.

Big-government progressives, backed by multibillion-dollar Silicon Valley corporations, howled loudly that such practices would be akin to censoring, discriminating, throttling and blocking Internet content.

But they have no problem trusting the Obama administration to make the rules.

Sadly, a lot of misinformed consumers bought into the specious argument.

Never mind the fact that ISPs the actual owners of their networks should have the right to operate their equipment as they see fit. If they want to charge bandwidth-hogging companies more money than smaller ones, let them. And if consumers don t like it, they have the right to do business with another ISP.

That s how the free-market Internet has worked quite well for two decades.

We could support FCC intervention if not for two things: 1) there already are existing laws and agencies set up to deal with anti-trust issues; and 2) ISPs haven t done anything to warrant heavy-handed intrusion into the marketplace.

But big-government control freaks don t need a reason to stick it to the private sector. Or, in this case, certain segments of the private sector.

Indeed, the FCC s ruling allows the government to pick winners and losers in this heretofore free market. And the President Obama-endorsed net neutrality plan picks its winner like a student body voting for class president.

It favors the fun and popular content companies, such as Google and Facebook, while punishing the stodgy ones like Comcast and AT&T, which deliver Internet content through their boring network of copper wires and fiber optic lines.

The Obama-FCC plan suggests a lack of ISP competition as a call for action, yet the new rules do nothing to encourage expansion or investments that make the Internet freer, faster or cheaper for consumers.

Instead, it gives us a 332-page policy hatched behind closed doors that will enable new regulations and taxes to flourish for years to come.

To us, the administration s end game is painfully obvious: To discourage private-sector investment by making Internet service less profitable. Then, networks will stagnate and degrade to the point where increased government intervention and eventual takeover becomes necessary for it to function properly.

Why else is Obama and his Democrat-controlled FCC trying to encourage state and local governments to get into the broadband business? What a sick joke governments taxing ISPs so they can use their own money to develop networks to compete against them.

Big Brother is here, and many of you just let him on the Internet.

The action we take today is about the protection of Internet openness, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said after the Thursday vote.

Today is a red-letter day for Internet freedom.

Get used to Wheeler s Newspeak, where freedom is regulation, where neutrality means disrupting free markets and where openness flows from rules drafted in secret.

Congress needs to act, and soon, to change the laws that enabled the FCC to adopt these Orwellian rules.

Between a free-market Internet and a government-controlled one, we ll take the free market every time.