Please Stand By

If you have ever wondered about the government’s ability to control the civilian airwaves, you will have your answer on November 9th.

On that day, federal authorities are going to shut off all television and radio communications simultaneously at 2:00PM EST to complete the first ever test of the national Emergency Alert System (EAS).

This isn’t a wild conspiracy theory. The upcoming test is posted on the Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau website.

Only the President has the authority to activate EAS at the national level, and he has delegated that authority to the Director of FEMA. The test will be conducted jointly by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through FEMA, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Weather Service (NWS).

In essence, the authority to seize control of all television and civilian communication has been asserted by the executive branch and handed to a government agency.

The EAS has been around since 1994. Its precursor, the Emergency Broadcast System (EBS), started back in 1963. Television and radio broadcasters, satellite radio and satellite television providers, cable television and wireline video providers are all involved in the system.

So this begs the question: is the first ever national EAS test really a big deal?

Probably not. At least, not yet.

Read more here.

The FCC’s Threat to Internet Freedom

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will mark the winter solstice by taking an unprecedented step to expand government’s reach into the Internet by attempting to regulate its inner workings. In doing so, the agency will circumvent Congress and disregard a recent court ruling.

How did the FCC get here?

For years, proponents of so-called “net neutrality” have been calling for strong regulation of broadband “on-ramps” to the Internet, like those provided by your local cable or phone companies. Rules are needed, the argument goes, to ensure that the Internet remains open and free, and to discourage broadband providers from thwarting consumer demand. That sounds good if you say it fast.

Nothing is broken and needs fixing, however. The Internet has been open and freedom-enhancing since it was spun off from a government research project in the early 1990s. Its nature as a diffuse and dynamic global network of networks defies top-down authority. Ample laws to protect consumers already exist. Furthermore, the Obama Justice Department and the European Commission both decided this year that net-neutrality regulation was unnecessary and might deter investment in next-generation Internet technology and infrastructure.

Analysts and broadband companies of all sizes have told the FCC that new rules are likely to have the perverse effect of inhibiting capital investment, deterring innovation, raising operating costs, and ultimately increasing consumer prices. Others maintain that the new rules will kill jobs. By moving forward with Internet rules anyway, the FCC is not living up to its promise of being “data driven” in its pursuit of mandates—i.e., listening to the needs of the market.

It wasn’t long ago that bipartisan and international consensus centered on insulating the Internet from regulation. This policy was a bright hallmark of the Clinton administration, which oversaw the Internet’s privatization. Over time, however, the call for more Internet regulation became imbedded into a 2008 presidential campaign promise by then-Sen. Barack Obama. So here we are.

Read more here.

Meet the FCC commissioner who wants to control the news

In 1949, the Federal Communications Commission
created a rule requiring broadcasters to cover issues that the government deemed important, and to do so in a way that the government found “honest, equitable and balanced.” If a broadcaster did not agree to abide by this rule, the FCC reserved the right to revoke the station’s broadcasting license. This rule was called the Fairness Doctrine. The FCC abandoned it in 1987. FCC Commissioner Michael Copps, a socially conservative Democrat appointed to the FCC in 2001, would like to bring it back.

Copps has a long history of advocating for government control of media, dating to the beginning of his tenure. But it wasn’t until last week, after Copps spoke to the BBC and an audience at Columbia University, that Congress decided to look into the commissioner’s philosophy against private media companies.

“We are going to be pretty close to denying our citizens the essential news and information that they need to have in order to make intelligent decisions about the future direction of their country,” Copps told the BBC. Media outlets are not “producing the body of news and information that democracy needs to conduct its civic dialogue.”

Copps went on to criticize his Republican colleagues at the FCC, who he claims, “eviscerated just about every public interest responsibility that generations of reformers had fought for and won in radio and TV.” In other words, the FCC folded the Fairness Doctrine in the 80s when it should have been cooking up legal justification for applying it more widely.

Read more here.

Lefties take anti-freedom of speech push to FCC

By: Mark Tapscott

Which of the following statements is true?

A. Common Cause is all about fighting corruption in politics.

B. The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies is devoted exclusively to using credible public policy research to advance the status of African Americans.

C. The United States Hispanic Leadership Institute exists solely to encourage greater empowerment and civic responsibility among Latinos in America.

D. These groups also seek repeal of the First Amendment’s guarantee of your freedom of speech.

The correct answer is D.

Officials with those three groups — and the other 28 leftist nonprofit activist groups that are also members of the National Hispanic Media Coalition — will scream to high heaven about being labeled enemies of freedom of speech. But their recent petition to the Federal Communications Commission proves otherwise.

The NHMC asked the FCC last month to move on the coalition’s official petition in 2009 that the bureaucrats open an official investigation into “the extent and effects of hate speech in the media, including the likely link between hate speech and hate crimes, and to explore non-regulatory ways to counteract its negative impacts.” (Emphasis added)

That, my friends, is a classic illustration of Orwellian doublespeak. It fosters the illusion that words without action can by definition be criminal, then hides this pernicious notion behind a disingenuous request that a government regulatory agency not regulate an alleged criminal activity supposedly within its purview.

Here’s how the coalition justified its 2009 petition:

“Hate speech against vulnerable groups is pervasive in our media — it is not limited to a few isolated instances or any one media platform. Indeed, many large mainstream media corporations regularly air hate speech, and it is prolific on the Internet.

“Hate speech takes various forms, from words advocating violence to those creating a climate of hate towards vulnerable groups. Cumulatively, hate speech creates an environment of hate and prejudice that legitimizes violence against its targets.”

Why is the coalition reiterating its call to the FCC now a year later? Because “over the past year, hate, extremism and misinformation have been on the rise.”

The coalition trots out two proofs of this supposed rise, including the latest Southern Poverty Law Center warning of a 54 percent increase “in the number of hate groups in the U.S.” That warning sounds ominous to those who aren’t familiar with the SPLC.

But, as my Examiner colleague Byron York recently pointed out, the SPLC issues the same warning on average about every three years. In 1992, for example, SPLC pegged the alleged increase at 27 percent. If SPLC data was credible, all Americans would have joined “hate groups” years ago.

Second, the NHMC notes that “just last week” Arizona’s new immigration law sparked “yet another firestorm of hate speech against Latinos.”

In other words, what NHMC means by “hate speech” is speech uttered by “critics of illegal immigration.” So, people who speak favorably of measures like Arizona’s law — roughly 60 percent of the American people, including a majority in Massachusetts — are thereby guilty of criminal acts.

But, wait a minute, if speech favoring laws like Arizona’s immigration measure “legitimizes violence against its targets,” isn’t it irresponsible for NHMC to encourage the FCC not to act against it?

The truth is, as the NHMC well knows, there is no such thing as a “non-regulatory” approach to a problem for bureaucrats. What these people on the left really want is to bring down the full force of government to silence those who disagree with them.

That urge is the very heart of tyranny.

Read more at the Washington Examiner: http://www.washingtonexaminer.com/opinion/columns/Lefties-take-anti-freedom-of-speech-push-to-FCC-95419554.html#ixzz0pkUjhN88

The Left’s War on Free Speech

By Bruce Walker

The left pretends to be the biggest champion of free speech. When the New York Times wrote articles about how our government was tracking the activities of terrorists, journalistic behavior which directly endangered the lives of Americans by providing intelligence information to those terrorists who are at war with us, the sanctimonious left insisted that this newspaper was simply exercising its constitutional right of free speech and free press.

In 1977 and 1978, Illinois Nazis planned a march Skokie, Illinois. That predominately Jewish community was home to many Holocaust survivors. The city, noting the intentionally provocative and malicious nature of this march, adopted ordinances to prevent the march. The perennially leftist ACLU took the side of the Nazis, citing the First Amendment rights of these disruptive goons.

The left at Berkeley in 1964 rallied around the “Free Speech Movement,” which was intended to be disruptive. By 1965, this movement had become known as the “Filthy Speech Movement,” because it asserted the right of students on campus to yell obscenities with impunity. The left had no problem with that at all, even when the speech inspired — almost called for — riots that destroyed property, frightened people, and produced numerous minor crimes. Hear what one of its “heroes,” Mario Savio, said at the time: “Government insults its citizens and denies their moral responsibility when it decrees that they cannot be trust to hear opinions that might persuade them to dangerous or offensive conduct.”

Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, every effort to impose restrictions upon pornography met with loud screeches of censorship by the left. Even when government funds are used to create “art,” like crosses in glasses of urine or nude women smearing chocolate over their bodies before audiences, the left sighs and tells Americans that this is the price of free speech.

All this devotion which the left pretends to have for free speech is just like every other profession of values by the left: it is pure fraud, smirking lies, and measured injustice. Consider the position that Elena Kagan has taken toward free speech. She wrote in 1996 that free speech could be restricted if it directly or indirectly incited people to do harm, and Kagan noted the famous example of someone yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater. She equates that with the notorious “hate speech” invented by the left.

The arguments of the left are always specious. The person yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater is protected if he believes that there is fire. It is only if he lies — if he knows that there is no fire but yells “Fire!” anyway — that his speech is restricted. So-called “hate speech” is precisely protected because the speaker believes what he is saying. Kagan may think that he is wrong; you or I may think that he is wrong; our opinions do not matter: the expression of honest belief or opinion is absolutely protected by the First Amendment, with no exceptions at all.

What this deformed interpretation of the First Amendment means, in fact, is that Americans are forced into silence, or worse, into lying about their beliefs. The channeling of expression into politically correct ravines means that the entire purpose of the First Amendment, which is to have speech that is the product of free minds and consciences, is lost.

The left displays a very curious attitude toward the rights of different sorts of speakers. “Hate speech” is almost always directed against the lonely individual conservative, who has no wealth or power to protect him. Conservatives have been noting for forty-one years that government licensed television network channels lie about conservatives, defame conservative leaders, and construct crude caricatures of conservatives as a group. Worse, for most of those forty-one years, the networks scrupulously avoided criticizing each other for ideological bigotry, acting like a true monopoly. The left defended the right of multi-billion dollar corporate giants to savage the lives of conservatives by malicious mendacity. The left never said a word about these mammoth business empires hurting the public.

So when does the left get concerned about opinions reaching tens of millions of Americans? When someone like Rush Limbaugh takes the largely ignored and financially modest medium of A.M. talk radio and, against a torrent of abuse and many boycotts, finds a profoundly resonating voice among the conservative majority of America. Then — only then! — the ancient “Fairness Doctrine” rears its peculiar head. When the identical triplets of CBS, NBC, and ABC had the same news, the same entertainment slant, the same everything — which meant conservative ideas and beliefs were scrupulously purged, the left thought the Fairness Doctrine something akin to censorship. Only when the other side gets heard does the doctrine have meaning.

The left is utterly wedded to thought control. Like all sibling totalitarianisms, the left in America is addicted to power and repelled by truth. The creation of officially defined oppressors and officially defined victims determines who has rights and who does not. The totalitarian narcotic of “Social Justice,” the drug of choice for Hitler, Stalin, Father Coughlin, and Sir Oswald Moseley, dulls the people into a twilight land in which “Freedom is Slavery” and free speech too.

Bruce Walker is the author of two books: Sinisterism: Secular Religion of the Lie and The Swastika against the Cross: The Nazi War on Christianity.

FCC: Wholly owned subsidiary of Free Press

Posted by Neil Stevens

When I said that Free Press, the fringe neo-Marxist organization pushing Net Neutrality, has as an end goal the nationalization of the mass media in America, I suspect some people thought I was exaggerating the threat. But look at this Media Bistro report about senior FCC advisor Steve Waldman:

On Monday night the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) senior advisor to the chairman Steve Waldman tried out the agency’s “Reboot” message … One area that came up as a possibility is the expansion of public media: radio, TV, and otherwise. Could Waldman be hinting at a government subsidized, local market version of ProPublica to fill in the gap? He’s testing the message.

This is what a push for state run media looks like, folks. All coming from Free Press Executive Director Josh Silver, via TV News Check:

So let’s not be delusional and pretend that the commercial sector is providing the information and the quality educational and cultural fare that this democracy requires.

Soon you will have a “right” to state run media just as you have a “right” to Obamacare, if they get their way.

The FCC Goes for the Nuclear Option

By Phil Kerpen- FOXNews.com

If FCC Chairman Genachowski announces his intention to reclassify the Internet as a telephone system, he will be reversing 30 years of precedent

As I have repeatedly warned and noted on http://www.ObamaChart.com, when Congress blocks the Obama administration, the White House always finds a way to get around the normal policy-making process and pursue its agenda by other means. Today’s reclassification assault on the Internet is the latest—and perhaps the most egregious—example.

In its effort to imposing crippling net neutrality regulations on the Internet—an idea with very little support from the American public or Congress—the Obama administration first turned to the FCC simply to pretend Congress has given it authority to regulate.

That effort suffered a major setback when the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals emphatically smacked down the FCC’s regulatory proposals in Comcast v. FCC. President Obama and his close friend and FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, however, refuse to back down. Instead they’re escalating to the regulatory equivalent of a nuclear attack on the free-market Internet: Chairman Genachowski will announce today his intention to reclassify broadband Internet as an old-fashioned telephone system as a pretext for pervasive regulatory control.

Broadband Internet service has never been regulated like old-fashioned telephone lines — classified as “Title II” under the Telecommunications Act. The FCC settled the matter definitively in 1998, when Clinton-appointed FCC Chairman William Kennard demolished the same reclassification arguments being made today in that year’s Report to Congress:

Our findings in this regard are reinforced by the negative policy consequences of a conclusion that Internet access services should be classed as “telecommunications” … Classifying Internet access services as telecommunications services could have significant consequences for the global development of the Internet. We recognize the unique qualities of the Internet, and do not presume that legacy regulatory frameworks are appropriately applied to it.

If Chairman Genachowski announces, as expected, his intention to reclassify the Internet as a telephone system, he will be reversing 30 years of precedent starting with the Carter administration FCC’s “Computer II” decision and definitively settled with respect to broadband Internet access by the Clinton FCC in 1998. Turning sharply left from Carter and Clinton indicates a pretty extreme shift beyond the mainstream of American politics.

Such a shift is unjustified, because free-market Internet policy has been a tremendous success. The Internet — in the absence of regulation — has flourished into a remarkable engine of economic growth, innovation, competition, and free expression. Such triumph argues in favor of continuing existing successful policies, but with today’s announcement the FCC shows it is more interested in satisfying a left-wing political constituency than continuing sound policy.

Consider the words of one of the leading advocates of Internet regulation, Robert McChesney, founder of the left-wing group Free Press. McChesney said to SocialistProject.ca: “What we want to have in the U.S. and in every society is an Internet that is not private property, but a public utility.”

He went on to explain: “At the moment, the battle over network neutrality is not to completely eliminate the telephone and cable companies. We are not at that point yet. But the ultimate goal is to get rid of the media capitalists in the phone and cable companies and to divest them from control.”

Not surprisingly, Free Press put out a statement yesterday just minutes after the story leaked that the FCC would pursue reclassification. Remarkably, they openly stated that even the nuclear option of total regulatory control under a utility-type model is not enough for them, saying: “This is extremely welcome news. We reserve judgment, however, on whether the FCC has gone far enough.”

The communications industry is, like health care, roughly one-sixth of the U.S. economy. Unlike health care, however, the FCC seems to believe it can take over the communications system with just three votes at the Commission. If they insist on trying, Congress needs to step in and stop them.

Phil Kerpen is vice president for policy at Americans for Prosperity and director of its http://www.NoInternetTakeover.com project. He can be reached on Twitter, Facebook, and through http://www.PhilKerpen.com.

New U.S. Push to Regulate Internet Access

By AMY SCHATZ

WASHINGTON—In a move that will stoke a battle over the future of the Internet, the federal government plans to propose regulating broadband lines under decades-old rules designed for traditional phone networks.

The decision, by Federal Communications Commission Chairman Julius Genachowski, is likely to trigger a vigorous lobbying battle, arraying big phone and cable companies and their allies on Capitol Hill against Silicon Valley giants and consumer advocates.

Breaking a deadlock within his agency, Mr. Genachowski is expected Thursday to outline his plan for regulating broadband lines. He wants to adopt “net neutrality” rules that require Internet providers like Comcast Corp. and AT&T Inc. to treat all traffic equally, and not to slow or block access to websites.

The decision has been eagerly awaited since a federal appeals court ruling last month cast doubt on the FCC’s authority over broadband lines, throwing into question Mr. Genachowski’s proposal to set new rules for how Internet traffic is managed. The court ruled the FCC had overstepped when it cited Comcast in 2008 for slowing some customers’ Internet traffic.

In a nod to such concerns, the FCC said in a statement that Mr. Genachowski wouldn’t apply the full brunt of existing phone regulations to Internet lines and that he would set “meaningful boundaries to guard against regulatory overreach.”

Some senior Democratic lawmakers provided Mr. Genachowski with political cover for his decision Wednesday, suggesting they wouldn’t be opposed to the FCC taking the re-regulation route towards net neutrality protections.

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski, whose authority over broadband lines has been questioned by a federal court, plans to use regulation on traditional phone networks to establish rules for Internet providers.

“The Commission should consider all viable options,” wrote Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, W.V.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, and Rep. Henry Waxman (D, Calif.), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, in a letter.

At stake is how far the FCC can go to dictate the way Internet providers manage traffic on their multibillion-dollar networks. For the past decade or so, the FCC has maintained a mostly hands-off approach to Internet regulation.

Internet giants like Google Inc., Amazon.com Inc. and eBay Inc., which want to offer more Web video and other high-bandwidth services, have called for stronger action by the FCC to assure free access to websites.

Cable and telecommunications executives have warned that using land-line phone rules to govern their management of Internet traffic would lead them to cut billions of capital expenditure for their networks, slash jobs and go to court to fight the rules.

Consumer groups hailed the decision Wednesday, an abrupt change from recent days, when they’d bombarded the FCC chairman with emails and phone calls imploring him to fight phone and cable companies lobbyists.

“On the surface it looks like a win for Internet companies,” said Rebecca Arbogast, an analyst with Stifel Nicolaus. “A lot will depend on the details of how this gets implemented.”

Mr. Genachowski’s proposal will have to go through a modified inquiry and rule-making process that will likely take months of public comment. But Ms. Arbogast said the rule is likely to be passed since it has the support of the two other Democratic commissioners.

President Barack Obama vowed during his campaign to support regulation to promote so-called net neutrality, and received significant campaign contributions from Silicon Valley. Mr. Genachowski, a Harvard Law School buddy of the president, proposed new net neutrality rules as his first major action as FCC chairman.

Telecom executives say privately that limits on their ability to change pricing would make it harder to convince shareholders that the returns from spending billions of dollars on improving a network are worth the cost.

Carriers fear further regulation could handcuff their ability to cope with the growing demand put on their networks by the explosion in Internet and wireless data traffic. In particular, they worry that the FCC will require them to share their networks with rivals at government-regulated rates.

Mike McCurry, former press secretary for President Bill Clinton and co-chair of the Arts + Labs Coalition, an industry group representing technology companies, telecom companies and content providers, said the FCC needs to assert some authority to back up the general net neutrality principles it outlined in 2005.

“The question is how heavy a hand will the regulatory touch be,” he said. “We don’t know yet, so the devil is in the details. The network operators have to be able to treat some traffic on the Internet different than other traffic—most people agree that web video is different than an email to grandma. You have to discriminate in some fashion.”

UBS analyst John Hodulik said the cable companies and carriers were likely to fight this in court “for years” and could accelerate their plans to wind down investment in their broadband networks.

“You could have regulators involved in every facet of providing Internet over time. How wholesale and prices are set, how networks are interconnected and requirements that they lease out portions of their network,” he said.
—Niraj Sheth, Spencer E. Ante, Sara Silver and Nat Worden contributed to this article.