Imagine, if you will, a world where Comcast throttles video-streaming from Faux News’ website to a painstakingly slow pace that would put a room full of dexadrine addicts into a suspended animation that would make Snow White look like an insomniac, while boosting Rachel Maddow—who happens to star on Comcast-owned MSNBC. What if Verizon, which owns the far-left Huffington Post, charged you a fee to visit Breitbart instead of HuffPo? What if Google charged an outrageous fee to access Gab? You must pay the troll toll to visit Gab, citizen.
And forget about InfoWars, Boomers, the entire Technoligarchy would make damn sure Alex Jones remained frozen in a pixelated paralysis that only a reasonable fee of $100 would release him from. He might as well be encased in carbonite at that point.
Under the current laws, it is illegal for a broadband provider to enforce so-called tiered pricing or site-specific fees on any internet content, regardless of political perspective, thanks to the Federal Communications Commission’s net neutrality rules. However, if Republican politicians get their way, those rules will soon be done away with, in favor of a “lighter touch,” allowing Comcast, Verizon and Google free reign to block, throttle, or charge a toll to access your favorite websites and apps. When I say Republicans, I should clarify that does not include senators Susan Collins of Maine, John Kennedy of Louisiana, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who voted in favor of net neutrality. Sensible (Hoppean) libertarians, however, seem to get it, as do the “far-right bogeymen” inhabiting 4chan and Discord. We’ve been down this road before, we know where it leads.
The enemy of my enemy…should be encouraged
In order to enforce net neutrality, the FCC had to reclassify broadband providers as Title II common carriers, not unlike telephone service providers. The commission declined to impose many of the regulations that could apply to common carriers under the original Communications Act of 1934, but the broadband industry has long complained that the decision gave the FCC too much power. For example, the FCC could have regulated the rates broadband providers charge their customers, though the agency decided not to, as that would potentially fall into a grey area of government overreach.
The principle of net neutrality asserts that internet service providers should treat all internet traffic the same way, regardless of a site’s content or owner—or its political views. Under the FCC’s net neutrality rules, your cell phone carrier can’t stop you from using Skype on your data plan. Your home broadband provider can’t slow Netflix down and make you pay added fees to escape the endless buffering. And neither can stop you from visiting all the rightwing websites you visit for a break from Cultural Marxism. If anything, rightwing politicians should be getting involved to ensure net neutrality doesn’t become a heavy-handed form of over-regulation. With Democrats winning back the House, a move to pass sensible legislation seems wiser than choosing this hill to die on, and risking another Omnibus fiasco.
Conservatives get hung up on this idea that net neutrality is the “Fairness Doctrine,” and “Obamacare for the internet.” This couldn’t be further from the truth, and is by nature a false equivalency. The origins of this myth can be traced to the original Fairness Doctrine, adopted by the newly-formed FCC back in 1949 to require that broadcasters present both sides of news stories. The end of that rule in 1987 enabled the rise of right-wing talk radio shows, such as the The Rush Limbaugh Show. Unlike the Fairness Doctrine, the FCC’s net neutrality rules don’t dictate what content websites or apps can or can’t publish. Quite the contrary: Instead of insisting that carriers include specific points of view, it bans them from excluding any legal content subscribers may wish to access. Net neutrality and the Fairness Doctrine are only linked because of their shared FCC origins. But the “neutrality” of net neutrality does not require a politically neutral point of view in any form. It simply protects the rights of all political views.
Libertarians are hardly blameless, as the ongoing epidemic of corporatist cuckery has plagued the movement for quite some time. “It’s a private enterprise, if they want to censor people, that’s their right.” Well, that’s where you’re wrong, voluntaryist hippies. There’s a difference between libertarianism and lolbertarianism. Learn it.
If we have learned anything from the censorship prevalent on tech platforms, it should be that the power to limit or outright block dissenting speech is dangerous, especially when this censorship occurs on social media networks, which, by virtue of their position are also public forums. This last point is the very basis of many rightwingers’ lawsuits against companies like Facebook and Twitter, so it only makes sense to prevent them from having even more power to do so on a much grander scale.
Fuck the parties, my only loyalty is to the truth. Perhaps this common bond can unite Libertarians, Conservatives and the Dissident Right.