Today’s my Birthday! As a Parrothead, I feel Jimmy Buffett has it right when he discusses becoming another year older through his song, “Growing Older, but not Up.”
It appears that there is yet another assault on net neutrality and the internet. This time, it involves government intervention on the internet.
During a recent interview with CNN’s State of the Union program, Sen. Joseph Lieberman (I-Conn.) signaled that the U.S. should have the ability to disconnect the internet in a case of war. Lieberman introduced S. 3480, the “Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act.” When asked about whether or not the legislation involved a Presidential “kill switch”, Lieberman said:
No way, and total misinformation. I don’t know whether people are intentionally pedaling misinformation. Here is the fact. Cyber-war is going on in some sense right now. Our civilian infrastructure, the Internet that runs the electric grid, the telecommunications grid, transportation, all the rest is constantly being probed by nation states, by some terrorist groups, by organized criminal gangs.
And we need this capacity in a time of war. We need the capacity for the president to say, Internet service provider, we’ve got to disconnect the American Internet from all traffic coming in from another foreign country, or we’ve got to put a patch on this part of it.
The president will never take over — the government should never take over the Internet. Listen, we’ve consulted, Senator Collins and I, who are proposing this bill, with civil liberties and privacy experts. This is a matter of national security. A cyber attack on America can do as much or more damage today by incapacitating our banks, our communications, our finance, our transportation, as a conventional war attack.
And the president, in catastrophic cases — not going to do it every day, not going to take it over. So I say to my friends on the Internet, relax… (LAUGHTER) take a look at the bill. And this is something that we need to protect our country. Right now, China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in a case of war. We need to have that here, too.
The New American reported in a recent article that the government will still have control, even if an emergency is not declared.
If this is not bad enough, the FCC recently voted 3-2 to classify the internet as a telecommunications service. This is yet another example of government control, as it will allow the FCC to place more regulations on the internet.
There are good reasons to be skeptical that the FCC in particular is the right agency to solve this problem even if it is a problem. Through most of its existence the agency has been fixed on regulating a legal monopoly—the old phone company—and on managing what were very limited broadcast spectrum—now largely supplanted by cable and more sophisticated technologies for managing the spectrum.
The FCC, recall, is the agency that watches broadcast (but not cable) television and issues fines for indecent content—an activity they do more, rather than less, even as broadcast becomes a trivial part of programming reception. Congress has three times tried to give the FCC authority to regulate indecency on the Internet as well, but the U.S. Supreme Court has stopped all three.
So if the FCC were to be the “smart cop on the beat” as Chairman Genachowski characterized his view of net neutrality, how would the agency’s temptation to shape content itself be curbed?
Worse, no one seems to have thought ahead as to how the FCC would enforce these rules. If I complain that my access is slow today and I believe that must mean my ISP is acting in a non-neutral fashion, the agency would have to look at the traffic and inside the packets in order to investigate my complaint. Again, the temptation to use that information and to share it with law enforcement under the name of anti-terrorism or other popular goals would be strong—strong enough that it ought to worry some of the groups advocating for net neutrality laws as a placebo to keep the ISPs in line.
Now, one has to ponder if the increased regulations will violate the First Amendment, “the freedom of speech.” With the recent FCC vote and Sen. Lieberman’s legislation, we are headed down this path. It appears that Congress and the Federal government view the Constitution as a “piece of paper” with little regards to our liberties.
When was the last time Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) actually listened to his constituents? Was it when he voted to direct funding for naming a post office in Maine or was it when he voted for Obama’s health care reform package (even though, a majority of his constituents didn’t)? Connolly has not been exactly receptive to the needs or wishes of his constituents. Connolly also skipped a vote to defund ACORN…ironic, don’t you think?
The Republican Party of Virginia (RPV) created a video to remind those in the 11th Congressional District of Connolly’s abysmal customer service. Connolly voted for 97 percent of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s liberal agenda and shows why he is so out-of-touch with his constituents. Yet another reason Connolly should be ousted in November.
Why doesn’t this surprise me (and forgive the irony)? The Democrats in control of Congress have neglected to pass a budget. With the deficit continually rising, it seems odd that Congress does not want to work on the budget. Then again, there’s not much initiative to do so with the current leadership, as they are more concerned with raising taxes.
Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) in media interviews yesterday indicated that taxes will increase to address the deficit issue. I guess Hoyer believes increased taxes will spur the economy and solve the deficit. Hoyer is wrong. Increasing taxes will hurt working families and it has never been the solution to addressing budget deficits and the economy.
Perhaps, it is time for Congress to examine their spending habits and create a realistic budget that will boost the economy and reduce the deficit.
Just in case you missed me…I’m back from my blogging hiatus. From moving out from my underground bunker to a new location and vacation, I realized that I needed to come back for some entertainment eventually.
Guest Post by Congressman Bob Goodlatte
Just last week the U.S. Treasury Department issued its “Annual Report on Public Debt” which confirmed that the national debt will soar to record levels. The report estimates that the total debt for fiscal year 2010 will reach $14.75 trillion which is over 93 percent of our gross domestic product (GDP). This current rate of government spending is having a crippling effect on our economy and overall job creation.
While federal spending is spiraling out of control, the House Democratic Leaders have failed to even propose a budget for the next fiscal year. Without a budget, there is no procedural enforcement mechanism to constrain spending. So far through the first eight months of the current fiscal year, which began last October 1st, the federal government amassed $941 billion in deficit spending which puts us on the dangerous track to an annual deficit (the amount by which government spending exceeds tax revenues) approaching last year’s record $1.4 trillion.
We are simply on an unsustainable course but there seems to be no end in sight to the Congressional spending spree. In fact, when White House Budget Director Peter Orszag was pressed on whether he would send a package of budget cuts to Congressional Democrats, he described it as a “fruitless exercise” with a “low probability of success” that would “go nowhere.”
Without the passage of a federal budget the reckless spending that has run rampant in Congress will only continue. A recent Gallup poll shows that this point is not lost on the majority of Americans. Seventy nine percent of Americans view the federal debt as a serious threat to the “future well being” of our country. In addition, one hundred American economists recently wrote to House Leadership saying the way to boost the economy and create private sector jobs is to take immediate action to rein in federal spending. It is the key to boosting the economy and creating private sector jobs.
Not only must Congress produce a budget but it must also work toward balancing it as soon as possible. I am a strong supporter of several measures that promote the establishment of a balanced budget and the elimination of wasteful government programs, including a Constitutional amendment that I introduced which requires the federal government to balance its budget each year. Congress must steadfastly hold the line on government spending which is why I have consistently voted for the tightest budgets offered each year.
The American people know that we can’t borrow and spend our way back to prosperity. The path to our economic recovery starts with fiscal responsibility in Washington. The federal government must follow the example set by our nation’s families and businesses – set a budget which eliminates unnecessary and wasteful spending. The future of America depends on it.
To contact me about this or any other matter, please visit my website at http://www.goodlatte.house.gov