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posted by takyon on Wednesday May 06 2015, @03:56AM   Printer-friendly
from the hands-off-my-interwebs dept.

CNSNews reports:

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) member Ajit Pai said over the weekend that he foresees a future in which federal regulators will seek to regulate websites based on political content, using the power of the FCC or Federal Elections Commission (FEC). He also revealed that his opposition to "net neutrality" regulations had resulted in personal harassment and threats to his family.

Pai, one of two Republicans on the five-member FCC, has been an outspoken critic of net neutrality regulations passed by the agency on Feb. 6. The rules, which are set to take effect on June 12, reclassify Internet providers as utilities and command them not to block or "throttle" online traffic.

However, Pai said it was only the beginning. In the future, he said, "I could easily see this migrating over to the direction of content... What you're seeing now is an impulse not just to regulate the roads over which traffic goes, but the traffic itself."

"Is it unthinkable that some government agency would say the marketplace of ideas is too fraught with dissonance? That everything from the Drudge Report to Fox News... is playing unfairly in the online political speech sandbox? I don't think so," Pai said.

That in contrast to a Department of Defense article here in which the Pentagon's chief spokesman admitted, "When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report."

The Drudge Report is singled out as an example in both articles, but such changes have the potential to affect all political speech online, some people believe. As for Pai's point of view, is it valid, or is it partisan sour-grapes fearmongering?

Related Stories

FEC Commissioner who Defended Drudge and Fox News Plans to Quit 15 comments

Federal Election Commissioner (FEC) Lee Goodman, who worked to keep online political speech free of federal control, is planning to step down this year, saying that he believes the Internet "is a little bit freer and a little bit safer" than when he assumed his position:

"I know that I am looking to depart the agency sometime this year," [Goodman] said in an interview with The Hill. "I would expect a new cast of at least four commissioners, probably this year."

Goodman, a Republican who joined the agency in 2013, developed a reputation for speaking up when his Democratic colleagues voted to crack down on the Internet and the press. Those included efforts to regulate websites like Twitter, Facebook, and the Drudge Report, and one attempt to punish Fox News over the criteria it used for including candidates in a Republican presidential debate.

Goodman said he believes the threat has subsided. This was due in part to President Trump's election as well as the fact that one of his Democratic colleagues, Commissioner Ann Ravel, stepped down at the end of February.

Previously: FCC Commissioner: Feds May Regulate Websites Based on Political Content


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:04AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:04AM (#179379)

    The second Clinton Era will be even more prosperous than the first!

    • (Score: 2, Funny) by albert on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:09AM

      by albert (276) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:09AM (#179381)

      She wants interns.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @11:17AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @11:17AM (#179453)

        She has Huma, a step up from going down on Janet Reno.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by tibman on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:12AM

    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:12AM (#179383)

    Do other utilities cut off the Drudge Report's power, water, and so on? No.

    The DOD quote is out of context. He said that the military should report all things, good AND bad. You shouldn't hear about the bad stuff only on the Drudge Report. That means the military failed to report it through its' own channels first.

    Little said commanders must be open and honest with the media. The department can’t hide bad news stories, he noted.
    “When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report,” he said.

    The quote in the summary makes it sound like the American people shouldn't be allowed to hear about it on the Drudge Report, which is incorrect.

    --
    SN won't survive on lurkers alone. Write comments.
    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by sigma on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:22AM

      by sigma (1225) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:22AM (#179395)

      Do other utilities cut off the Drudge Report's power, water, and so on? No.

      You're talking politics on a tech site. What're you trying to do, get us blasted off the internet? And what does this "chilling effect" jargon really mean?

  • (Score: 4, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:13AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:13AM (#179384)

    I have been saying this for quite some time. Read the "new" net neutrality legislation. There are all kinds of provisions for "lawful content". This does not mean "legal" content. "Lawful Content" means that which is expressly permitted by law. Unlawful content does not mean illegal content, it also covers anything not expressly permitted by the legislation, such as new protocols, P2P, political speech, podcasts, hosting online games, etc.

    Net neutrality WAS about making sure there was no internet slow lane everyone but the big guys got shunted into, but now it also has a ton of regulatory shite. I'd rather the slow lane than no lane.

    • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:48PM

      by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:48PM (#179640) Journal

      I have been saying this for quite some time. Read the "new" net neutrality legislation. There are all kinds of provisions for "lawful content". This does not mean "legal" content. "Lawful Content" means that which is expressly permitted by law. Unlawful content does not mean illegal content, it also covers anything not expressly permitted by the legislation, such as new protocols, P2P, political speech, podcasts, hosting online games, etc.

      Net neutrality WAS about making sure there was no internet slow lane everyone but the big guys got shunted into, but now it also has a ton of regulatory shite. I'd rather the slow lane than no lane.

       
      I disagree with your conclusion completely. But, you posit it in a logical and cogent manner, without reverting to mindless character assassination and other fallacies. Unlike the article itself and half the posts in here...
       
      Well done.

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by jmorris on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:13AM

    by jmorris (4844) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:13AM (#179385)

    Why is anyone even asking this question?

    1. Every other agency of the government is now corrupted by politics. Tricky Dick resigned before he could be impeached (item number one on the articles) for trying (and failing) to politicize the IRS. Both Clinton and Obama succeeded and have not suffered for it; it is a certainty that Granny C intends to repeat.

    2. Progressives openly heap scorn on the concept of the 1st Amendment. Once upon a time they paid it lip service, when their allies were in the minority and needed the protection, but no more; Progressive politicians up to and including the POTUS openly call for repealing/amending the 1st Amendment.

    3. Progressives reject every concept of Americanism, including the Rule of Law. Therefore there is no definable moral limit beyond simple Will to Power in their rulebook.

    Given these realities, given that they now have claimed the power to control the Internet and that it isn't likely to be challenged, it isn't a matter of IF they will abuse it, just a matter of how quickly.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:51AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:51AM (#179400)

      Could you please give references for (2) and (3)? If those are statements made openly as you say, then there should be sources.

      Also, I would hesitate to call anyone in federal government a progressive except maybe Elizabeth Warren.

      • (Score: 0, Insightful) by jmorris on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:23AM

        by jmorris (4844) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:23AM (#179420)

        I normally ignore AC posts but what the heck, I'm a giver tonite.

        Could you please give references for (2) and (3)? If those are statements made openly as you say, then there should be sources.

        For number 2 it is probably sufficient to say two phrases: Hate Speech Legislation and Campaign Finance Law. Both the current and probable next POTUS openly declare their support for 'modifying' the 1st Amendment if required to achieve their goals. But just for extra kaboom lets just throw in the transformation of the University from a place of free and open debate to a series of safe spaces, free from triggering microagressions... such as disagreement with progressive orthodoxy.

        As to item 3, lemme just throw it back at ya. Name one fundamental American principle you believe a Progressive actually supports. Supports as in would abandon an otherwise successful political power grab if they believed it conflicted with one of the principles. And since odds are your own gutless ass is also one, just simplify to name one YOU support. Free Speech? Free Association? RTKBA? Rule of Law? A Republic, not a Democracy? Limited government? States' Rights? Separation of powers? Inalienable Rights?

        Also, I would hesitate to call anyone in federal government a progressive except maybe Elizabeth Warren.

        Why does anyone care what an AC thinks? We do know as incontrovertible fact that a fair number of em call themselves such, speak as such and act as such. After they made socialist, communist, progressive and fascist dirty words by the simple expedient of saying what they stood for (and the rather forceful examples of the related totalitarian philosophies in practice - see WWII) they abandoned all of those terms and adopted 'liberal' which now means (in the U.S.) exactly the opposite of the meaning it historically held. It now equally tainted by public understanding of what the people using the label actually believe, they have abandoned it and reclaimed progressive. See public pronouncements by Democratic Party luminaries such as Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, etc. Good luck with a No True Scotsman defense declaring they aren't really progressives or representative of your Party.

        • (Score: 3, Informative) by Eristone on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:43PM

          by Eristone (4775) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:43PM (#179600)

          Okay - not an Anonymous Coward posting.

          Can you post a reference where the current president and the current democratic candidate have said they want to modify the 1st amendment? (and you do realize how hard it is to modify amendments, right?) Campaign Finance Law currently is "He who has the most dollars has the loudest voice" - does that sit well with you? Hate Speech legislation - so far, the KKK is still allowed to print and distribute pamphlets and while I despise everything they stand for, I support their right to be able to do so. (That pesky 1st Amendment thing).

          For #3, I support freedom of speech and freedom of religion. Free association - so you aren't closely paying attention to all those guys at the mosque? Rule of Law shouldn't have an asterisk, which it currently does. Limited government is more of a Tea Party specific bit, but it would be nice to have only the government necessary however when people are given free reign to do what they want, inevitably you start having individuals who missed a bunch of chapters about "fellow man", hence the regulations.

          So regarding your rant about representatives of the Democratic Party, the pronouncements found on sites such as TPNN and WND are usually false or so heavily slanted and edited that they resemble the truth in that they use the same alphabet.

          • (Score: 3, Informative) by curunir_wolf on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:53PM

            by curunir_wolf (4772) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:53PM (#179643)

            Can you post a reference where the current president and the current democratic candidate have said they want to modify the 1st amendment?

            I can. Right here is the news about Obama supporting a Constitutional amendment to limit speech [cnsnews.com]. And here is a story about Hillary Clinton supporting the same thing [wordpress.com].

            --
            I am a crackpot
            • (Score: 1) by Eristone on Wednesday May 06 2015, @08:57PM

              by Eristone (4775) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @08:57PM (#179673)

              Laughing - touche curunir_wolf. Well done, sir. Under the circumstances, though, I would support that particular amendment with regards to corporations and campaign finance - companies aren't people who can vote, so limiting their speech by constitutionally reversing the Citizens United ruling seems right...

              • (Score: 2) by curunir_wolf on Saturday May 09 2015, @07:55PM

                by curunir_wolf (4772) on Saturday May 09 2015, @07:55PM (#180850)

                The clear implication of the amendment is that it invalidates the First Amendment restrictions on the government's ability to limit free speech. I can't even send out a Tweeter without spending money for Internet access, and I can't set up a web site without purchasing a domain. EVERY form of speech, with the possible exception of standing on a street corner giving a speech (as long as the police don't try to arrest you for loitering).

                You should also consider the implications of mentioning that it's okay to limit "spending for speech", but not limit "the press". Well, okay, then what is "the press"? If I'm one of the 5 US corporations that controls mainstream media, I'm free to say anything I want. But outside of that cabal, I'm going to have to prove that I'm part of "the press" in order to get the freedom to distribute a message. That implies that the government will be deciding who is a journalist and who is not.

                It's a bad amendment. The response to speech you disagree with is to speak out. There is plenty of money on both sides to promote ideas. The only limitations right now is the government and politicians' ability to limit the expression of those ideas. And that's a good thing.

                --
                I am a crackpot
        • (Score: 3, Informative) by curunir_wolf on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:44PM

          by curunir_wolf (4772) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:44PM (#179638)

          For number 2 it is probably sufficient to say two phrases: Hate Speech Legislation and Campaign Finance Law. Both the current and probable next POTUS openly declare their support for 'modifying' the 1st Amendment if required to achieve their goals.

          It's worse than that. They actually tried to modify it already [govtrack.us], and they're planning to re-introduce it this session.

          --
          I am a crackpot
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:53AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:53AM (#179401)

      Before the progressive era, American men could marry girl children.
      Which was a wonderful thing for men.

      Democracy is a rachet, it only goes one way.
      The only way to get rid of the progressives and they edicts is force.

      • (Score: 2) by janrinok on Wednesday May 06 2015, @08:30AM

        by janrinok (52) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday May 06 2015, @08:30AM (#179430) Journal
        MikeeUSA - you are busy this week.
        --
        I am not interested in knowing who people are or where they live. My interest starts and stops at our servers.
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by M. Baranczak on Wednesday May 06 2015, @06:11AM

      by M. Baranczak (1673) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @06:11AM (#179404)

      Trying to reason with you would obviously be a waste of time. So I'll just play some modern jazz. [youtube.com]

      • (Score: 1) by nitehawk214 on Wednesday May 06 2015, @03:07PM

        by nitehawk214 (1304) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @03:07PM (#179545)

        Oh crap, its stuck in my heaaaaad!

        --
        "Don't you ever miss the days when you used to be nostalgic?" -Loiosh
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday May 06 2015, @01:02PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @01:02PM (#179478)

      BS.

      Citation needed on #2.

      And the only "progressives" I can think of who hold office currently are Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by captain normal on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:33AM

    by captain normal (2205) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:33AM (#179388)

    Oh good... does this mean that the FCC is going to crack down on Fox, Clear Channel and Cumulus Media? Oops... he said "web sites", not broadcast media. For a second there I thought the FCC was going to shut off the political spam.

    --
    Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts"- --Daniel Patrick Moynihan--
    • (Score: 2) by jmorris on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:55AM

      by jmorris (4844) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:55AM (#179392)

      Go read what Mark Cuban thinks the end game of net neutrality is. It is even worse that you snark. No more cable channels as such, at all. In a converged digital world, CNN on a dedicated bandwidth allocation vs cat videos on YouTube is just one lawsuit away from being illegal.

      • (Score: 2) by Joe Desertrat on Friday May 08 2015, @02:26AM

        by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Friday May 08 2015, @02:26AM (#180155)

        Go read what Mark Cuban thinks the end game of net neutrality is. It is even worse that you snark. No more cable channels as such, at all. In a converged digital world, CNN on a dedicated bandwidth allocation vs cat videos on YouTube is just one lawsuit away from being illegal.

        This is just more doublespeak bullshit. The reason the Republicans do not want net neutrality is because it prevents them from doing the very things they are scaremongering about now. Period. Pai is making claims in which there is simply no basis in fact, no one has claimed they are attempting to do this, indeed, this sort of thing is against the very concept of net neutrality. If net neutrality somehow gets perverted towards regulating content rather than just preventing equal access, it will again be up to the current net neutrality activists to fight against that and force it towards what it is supposed to be. I can guarantee you, they will be the only ones fighting to make it right and I would be willing to bet that the current opponents of net neutrality will be the ones behind any future perversion of it.

    • (Score: 1) by VIPERsssss on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:08PM

      by VIPERsssss (3959) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:08PM (#179626)

      Are you kidding? Those so-called conservative outlets are nowhere near unhinged enough for the Useless Contrarian Party.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by shortscreen on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:04AM

    by shortscreen (2252) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:04AM (#179394) Journal

    Not only is this baseless speculation, from a man who is probably butthurt about the Title II decision, it is also a threat that makes no sense.

    Let's think about this for a second. What could the big, bad FCC possibly have to gain by trying to censor websites, a move which would be obviously unconstitutional, that almost everyone would find out about and oppose? Seriously, if the feds want to take a website down for whatever reason, they already have countless tools at their disposal. They can steal the server via civil forfeiture, gag everyone with national security letters, plant some kiddy porn, extraordinarily render the author to a "black site" for some waterboarding, etc. You know, the normal executive branch stuff that they already get away with.

  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by aristarchus on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:24AM

    by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:24AM (#179398) Journal

    Does someone really have to say this? Pai is an idiot. There is not reason to pay attention to what he "thinks" (we are using this term very loosely) might happen.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:58AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:58AM (#179402)

      I repeat. Pai is an idiot. And ugly.

    • (Score: 3, Funny) by Geezer on Wednesday May 06 2015, @11:23AM

      by Geezer (511) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @11:23AM (#179456)

      Bingo. Everybody likes pie. Engineers and scientists like pi. Nobody likes Pai.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by goody on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:01PM

      by goody (2135) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @05:01PM (#179580)

      Pai is not an idiot, he's just one of this new breed of Republicans, the tea party graduates. He has mastered conservative dog whistle political rhetoric. I question whether he believes all the garbage he spews because it's way there, stuff that goes well with Fox News. He's undoubtedly gunning for some major conservative money post-FCC. In any case, Pai is scary. While Republican FCC commissioners and chairman like Michael Powell and Kevin Martin were just incompetent in pursing their right wing agendas, Pai knows what he's doing and he plays well to the bitter clingers who can't grasp complex concepts like Net Neutrality.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:07AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:07AM (#179413)

    Wait, which side is he on? Somehow I get the feeling that he wants to abolish net neutrality because he's worried that it will lead to political censorship. But if you view net neutrality as a bit like freedom of speech, it really sounds like he thinks it's a bad idea because he wants to censor the net, and net neutrality would prevent him from doing that.

    Considering politicians today, the second way of reading it seems to be the only one that fits reality.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by aristarchus on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:54AM

      by aristarchus (2645) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @07:54AM (#179425) Journal

      But if you view net neutrality as a bit like freedom of speech, it really sounds like he thinks it's a bad idea because he wants to censor the net, and net neutrality would prevent him from doing that.

      By George, I think AC has got it! Three cheers! "For AC is a jolly good fellow, which nobody can deny!" (You know, that seems a little more metrosexual than it used to, but what the hey!)

  • (Score: 4, Touché) by wonkey_monkey on Wednesday May 06 2015, @09:13AM

    by wonkey_monkey (279) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @09:13AM (#179435) Homepage

    "When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report."

    Bond: Are these pictures live?
    M: Unlike the American government, we prefer not to get our bad news from CNN.

    - Goldeneye

    --
    systemd is Roko's Basilisk
    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bob_super on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:16PM

      by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @04:16PM (#179563)

      Additionally:

      > "When bad things happen, the American people should hear it from us, not as a scoop on the Drudge Report."

      Well, not quite.
      If something happens, good or bad, the People should hear it both from the government and the media. That's the job of the media, in theory: independently report what happens. The alternative, in our beautifully polarized system, is the Ministry Of Propaganda.

  • (Score: 4, Disagree) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday May 06 2015, @12:39PM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday May 06 2015, @12:39PM (#179471) Journal

    So, let's censor websites for political content but do absolutely nothing about the ramifications of the Citizens United decision, which is driving a stake through the heart of democracy. This idiot quite represents the top echelons of federal government, doesn't he?

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.