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Michele Bachmann calls net neutrality an Obama censorship plot

Black is white. Peace is war. Up is down.

Michele Bachmann is now asserting that the issue of Internet network neutrality, known as "net neutrality," is an evil Obama administration plot to censor the Internet.

But it's exactly the opposite:

Network neutrality (also net neutrality, Internet neutrality) is a principle proposed for user access networks participating in the Internet that advocates no restrictions by Internet Service Providers or governments on content, sites, or platforms, on the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and on the modes of communication allowed, as well as communication that is not unreasonably degraded by other traffic.

She told Sean Hannity last night -- unchallenged:

"So whether they're attacking conservative talk radio, or conservative TV or whether it's Internet sites, I mean, let's face it, what's the Obama administration doing? They're advocating net neutrality which is essentially censorship of the Internet. This is the Obama administration advocating censorship of the Internet. Why? They want to silence the voices that are opposing them. Despite the fact that they continue to have much of the mainstream media still providing cover for all of these dramatic efforts that the Obama administration is taking. So they're very specifically and pointedly going after voices that they see are effectively telling the truth about what the Obama administration is trying to do."

So what's going on here? Bachmann appears to be siding with major Internet service providers seeking to avoid government regulation. And that argument is over, at least for now. An appeals court told the FCC earlier in April that the FCC has no jurisdiction over Internet regulation. (Read this Atlantic post for a great summary of the ongoing dispute.)

Here's Barack Obama in February:

Well, I'm a big believer in net neutrality. I campaigned on this. I continue to be a strong supporter of it. My FCC Chairman, Julius Genachowski, has indicated that he shares the view that we've got to keep the Internet open; that we don't want to create a bunch of gateways that prevent somebody who doesn't have a lot of money but has a good idea from being able to start their next YouTube or their next Google on the Internet. So this is something we're committed to.

We're getting pushback, obviously, from some of the bigger carriers who would like to be able to charge more fees and extract more money from wealthier customers. But we think that runs counter to the whole spirit of openness that has made the Internet such a powerful engine for not only economic growth, but also for the generation of ideas and creativity.

Here's Scott Cleland, a spokesman for the ISP-backed Precursor group, speaking to NPR's Bob Garfield: 

Well, let's remember that Congress deregulated, on an overwhelming bipartisan basis, in 1996, and it has worked, and it has produced an Internet that everybody thinks is a phenomenon that is extremely useful.

So I kind of reject the notion that jurisdiction here is really important because consumers are getting the applications and the content of their choice. Why are we going through all of this enormously intrusive regulatory discussion that can essentially kill the goose that laid the golden egg?

And here's Gigi Sohn, who represents Public Knowledge, an organization fighting the ISPs, from the same NPR interview:

If you look at the terms of service of every single wireless company, they block certain applications. So there've been more than two grains of sand, but it's more than that. There are many, many others instances we may not even know about.

Here's another important point. Pretty much every single company in this space has said that they want to charge Google, eBay, Amazon for quality of service, which means faster speed, less jitter. They've already said that. So the notion that they don't want to engage in anything but neutral behavior is, is just wrong. It's part of their business plan.

We'll stick with the Web's inventor, Tim Berners-Lee, on this one.


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