If you’ve heard anything about the “net neutrality” debate, the media would have you think the public is in favor of backbreaking Title II utility style regulations for the internet.
The liberal media won’t tell you that already the overwhelming message coming through in the Federal Communications Commission comment proceeding is “get the government out of my internet.” Of about 5 million comments submitted thus far, well over 3 million of the comments submitted support repealing Obama’s regulatory takeover.
By analyzing language found in common form letters and slogans used on comments submitted to the FCC, a CASE study found that around 65% of the docket is in support of repealing Title II regulations – again, that’s more than 3 million comments out of over 5 million filed.
A Morning Consult poll found that 56% of those polled did not want the internet regulated as a public utility and that the government should rarely regulate the internet. 29% of respondents said that the government should be actively involved in regulating the internet. 53% said that the government should maintain a “light touch approach” to regulating the internet and take action only when the consumer is harmed. A mere 12% responded that the FCC should set prices, terms and conditions for internet access while 25% argued that the government should not regulate the internet in any way. This spread shows a “strong” preference for light touch regulations and repealing Title II regulations on the internet.
Title II is not “net neutrality.” Over the last 20 years, the internet flourished under the bipartisan light touch regulatory framework, championed by the Clinton administration. Despite decades of demonstrated innovation, the FCC, under the direction of the Obama administration, reclassified ISPs as a Title II utility service via a 1934 law intended to rein in the Ma Bell monopoly. Because the law is from the 1934 monopoly, before the internet even existed, Title II gives substantial government control at both the federal and state level over the types of services and rates ISPs can provide as well as who they can serve.
When it comes to “form comments” – basically votes in favor or votes against Title II utility regulations, CASE found that 75% of all comments stem from form letter campaigns from both sides. This means that 25% of comments are individually generated on both sides.
The number of comments is important, and there is nothing wrong with genuine votes from either side. The renewed issue surrounding mass comments makes it clear as to why individually generated comments on the merits of the FCC proposal carry more weight. The FCC has posed questions and requested thoughtful comments to aid in the FCC’s decision-making. The FCC has made it clear that the commenting process is not a popularity contest.
News on fake Title II comments is hardly new. The Daily Caller found that of a random sample of around 10,000 pro-Title II comments at the FCC, only 44% of respondents recalled submitting a public comment while 39% denied or did not remember submitting a comment. Free Beacon also found that the FCC has received thousands of comments from fake aliases such as “John Oliver”, “Homer Simpson”, “Obama” and “1”. Many of these comments are riddled with derogatory slurs and personal attacks directed towards Chairman Ajit Pai himself. Plus, CASE found that International filers made up over 250,000, about 6%, of the comments and were predominately for maintaining Title II regulations.
Fake comments are at the center of blustering back and forth, but the good news is that at the end of the day, substantive comments will ultimately prevail. That means the hijacked names and email address, fake names, name calling and international filers don’t have significant sway with the agency.
In focusing on John Oliver and his followers, unfortunately, the media has missed the point completely. The media neglects to report that the record-breaking volume of comments submitted to the FCC are from Americans concerned about the detrimental economic consequences of Title II.
Despite media coverage dominated by those in favor of keeping Title II, the numbers show that Americans very clearly do not want the government dictating rates, delivery methods, and ISP service areas.
Photo Credit: Bart