Will the Government Take Over the Internet?

Deal W. Hudson
February 18, 2010

How many times have you been on an important cell-phone call, and suddenly the call is dropped? Whether you pay for service from Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, or any other service provider, dead zones are unhappy facts of daily life.

For the past few years, phone companies have been encouraged to invest in expanding infrastructure – making the dead zones come alive – by a 2003 ruling of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). That ruling kept phone companies from being required to lease access to their fiber lines to competitors.

As a result, Verizon invested $23 billion in constructing its all-fiber FIOS network that provides Internet, cable TV, and phone service. AT&T has been aggressively expanding its coverage as well. But the effort to eliminate dead zones and provide quicker Internet and higher-quality cable TV may slow down in the near future.

Following the leadership of the Obama White House, the FCC is considering a reversal of their 2003 decision. At the request of an Atlanta company, Cbeyond, the FCC would force AT&T and Verizon to lease their Internet lines to rival companies. Cbeyond – whose present lines are significantly slower than those of the major phone companies – wants access to their rivals’ lines in order to offer their Internet services to small businesses.

By forcing Verizon and AT&T to share their lines, the FCC would effectively be putting the Internet under government control. Government control of the Internet is precisely what the Obama administration wants with its support of “net neutrality” – the idea that there should be no restrictions or priorities on the type of content carried over the Internet by the carriers and ISPs. It states that all traffic be treated equally, regardless of where it originated or to where it is destined.

“I’m a big believer in net neutrality,” President Obama proclaimed only a few days ago while reaffirming his backing of FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski.

The fight over net neutrality has been dwarfed in the public square by the struggling economy, the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the health-care debate. But if the FCC acts to hand control of the Internet over to the Obama administration, there will be one more populist explosion, which this White House and Congress don’t need.

The groups backing net neutrality, such as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, are opposed to companies like Verizon creating different levels of service by charging a higher cost for faster service. Other religious groups, such as the Christian Coalition, have argued that this kind of tiered service could also lead to “discrimination” against religious content for two reasons: Verizon executives may decide to filter religious content they find objectionable, and religious organizations may not be able to afford the faster service.

Other groups are opposed to net neutrality. An assembly of religious and conservative leaders representing twelve organizations wrote a letter to the House Judiciary Committee, arguing that an Internet kept “open” by government regulation puts families at risk:

It is critically important for parents and broadband service providers to continue to have these tools available to them because despite what network neutrality proponents may say, all content on the web is not equal and should not be treated equally. Network management is not some insidious method of stifling voices on the Internet; network management is critical to stop pornographers and pedophiles from having unfettered access to consumers’ Internet connections.

Why would religious organizations, like the new version of the Christian Coalition and the USCCB, back a policy forcing broadband service providers to treat pornography the same as content welcomed by families? Net neutrality, in addition to adding to government power and control, would mean that every decision to block pornography, or any kind of security threat, would have to be approved by the government.

 

By Deal Hudson

Deal W. Hudson was born November 20, 1949 in Denver, CO, to Emmie and Jack Hudson, both native Texans. Dr. Hudson had an older sister Ruth, and eventually, a younger sister, Elizabeth. Emmie Hudson, Ruth Hudson and Elizabeth Hudson now live in Houston, TX; Jack Hudson passed away some years ago. The late Jack Hudson was a captain for Braniff Airlines in Denver at the time of Dr. Hudson’s birth. Later the family moved to Kansas City when his father joined the Federal Aviation Agency. From Kansas City, the Hudson family moved to Minneapolis, then to Massapequa, NY, and finally to Alexandria, VA, where they first occupied a home overlooking the Potomac River adjacent to the Mount Vernon estate. After a year, the family moved to a home on Tarpon Lane a few houses up the street from the Yacht Haven boat docks. Dr. Hudson attended Mt. Vernon Elementary School from grades 4 to 6 and has a special gratitude for the teaching of Mr. Hoppe who first told him was a ‘smart lad.’ Having moved with his family to Fort Worth, TX in 1960, Dr. Hudson attended William Monnig Junior High and Arlington Heights HS. In high school, Dr. Hudson was captain of the golf team, editor of the literary magazine (Guerdon), and performed the role of Peter in the ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ during his senior year. Dr. Hudson graduated cum laude with a major in philosophy from the University of Texas-Austin in 1971 where his undergraduate advisor was Prof. John Silber. His teachers at the University of Texas included Prof. Louis Mackey and Prof. Larry Caroline. Dr. Hudson minored in both classics and English literature. Dr. Hudson lived in Atlanta from 1974-1989, where he attended Emory University, receiving a Phd from the Graduate Institute for the LIberal Arts. He also taught philosophy at Mercer University in Atlanta from 1980-89. In 1989 Dr. Hudson and his family left Atlanta when he was hired to teach philosophy at Fordham University in the Bronx. Dr. Hudson taught at Fordham, and also part-time at New York University, from 1989 to 1994. Dr. Hudson first came to Atlanta in after graduation from Princeton Theological Seminary (PTS) with an M.Div. While at PTS, Dr. Hudson managed the Baptist Student Union at Princeton University and became its first director. Dr. Hudson also was licensed at a minister in the Southern Baptist Convention at Madison Baptist Church in Madison, NJ. Dr. Hudson’s primary area of study at PTS was the history of Christian doctrine which he pursued with Dr. Karlfried Froelich. In 1984 Dr. Hudson was received in the Catholic Church by Msgr. Richard Lopez, with the special permission of Archbishop Thomas A. Donnellan, at the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help Cancer Home in Atlanta. Dr. Hudson has been married twenty-five years to Theresa Carver Hudson and they have two children, Hannah Clare, 23, and Cyprian Joseph (Chip), 15, adopted from Romania when he was three years old. The Hudson family has lived in Fairfax, VA for more than fifteen years, after having lived five years in Bronxville, NY and a year in Atlanta, GA, where Theresa and Deal were married.

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