Net Neutrality Socialism for the Internet?

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It's called "net neutrality," and supporters say the government needs to make sure Internet companies don't interfere in Web traffic, possibly giving priority to some websites over others.

Gigi Sohn, president and co-founder of the advocacy group Public Knowledge, is pushing for net neutrality.

Sohn said she worries "the richer content providers -- big Hollywood studios, big Hollywoood networks -- will be able to pay for their websites to come up faster, for their videos to have higher quality of service -- and that the rest of us will be left in the slow lane."

But opponents, including many conservatives, say the Internet is working just fine now. They worry net neutrality could morph into heavy-handed, stifling government control, ruinng the wild frontier that the Internet is now.

"Most Americans think the government doesn't work so hot and the Internet does," Rep. Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee said. "Why are we putting the government in charge of the Internet?"

House Speaker Rep. John Boehner said that's the last thing Americans need.

"And the last thing we need, in my view, is the FCC serving as Internet traffic controller," Boehner said.

"We're trying to say no," Upton said. "Let it flourish without government regulation."

Seton Motley, with Less Government, said he fears a federal power grab as big as Obamacare.

"The Internet now is one-sixth of the economy, just like health care is," Motley said.

He noting that the main pusher for net neutrality is Robert McChesney, an avowed Marxist.

"And he said of net neutrality, 'It is a necessary first step in eradicating media capitalists and divesting them from control,'" Motley said.

"So what he wants to do, as we said, (is) drive out all the money, then have government replace it," he explained.

Motley points out both Congress and the courts told the FCC it couldn't regulate the Internet, but that didn't stop them.

So, though Motley calls this "Obamacare for the Internet," he said it's actually worse.

"This is an even worse power grab than Obamacare because at least the House and the Senate voted on it -- on Obamacare -- and passed it and the president signed it," Motley said.

The charge makes Sohn laugh.

"'Obamacare for the Internet' is overwrought," she said, saying instead that net neutrality will ensure people power.

"When there's no corporate gatekeeper, deciding who gets to send what message to whom and who gets it faster or slower, that can allow amazing things to happen," Sohn claimed.

Motley warned that a heavy-handed effort by government to weed out discrimination and favoritism will ruin the Internet.

"Net neutrality is socialism for the Internet," he said. "It guarantees everybody equal amounts of nothing."

"You're telling the hospital that's trying to download somebody's MRI while they're dying, 'You don't get anymore bandwidth than the guy next door who's downloading the panda sneezes video from YouTube," Motley said.

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Paul  Strand

Paul Strand

CBN News Washington Sr. Correspondent

As senior correspondent in CBN's Washington, D.C., bureau, Paul Strand has covered a variety of political and social issues, with an emphasis on defense, justice, and Congress.  Follow Paul on Twitter @PaulStrandCBN and "like" him at Facebook.com/PaulStrandCBN.