Join Jim and Greg as they examine media critic Howard Kurtz’s call for TV hosts to rely on infectious disease experts to assess the coronavirus instead of more familiar faces. They also hammer “The Atlantic” and two law professors for concluding that China’s crackdown on internet speech is a better way to go than America’s default towards free speech. And they unload on House Speaker Nancy Pelosi for lying about opposing Trump’s China travel ban and for suggesting Trump was wrong even to allow American citizens and green card holders to return from China.
In the final installment of our series, we examine what law enforcement and lawmakers are doing to confront the horrific big business of child sex trafficking, what individual citizens can do to root out the problems in their own communities, and how to best stay on top of our kids’ internet activity and spot the signs that a predator has already made contact with them.
Sex-trafficked children are the third largest criminal commodity in the United States. Only illegal drugs and guns are more prolific. In the first installment of our Essence of Evil series, we examined the scope of the child sex trafficking, the horrors endured by the victims, and how this became a big business.
Here in part two of our series, we examine how children – mostly girls – are lured by predators and traffickers, how they are groomed for life as a victim, and why there are so many people in the U.S. willing to pay to have sex with kids.
Listener discretion is advised.
Listen to “Broward County Accountability, Libs Target Internet, Maduro Assassination Attempt” on Spreaker.
Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos of Radio America are pleased to see a key figure from the Florida high school shooting replaced in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office but are irritated the media has stopped covering Sheriff Scott Israel, who still has his job despite failing to perform his duties before and during the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School. They also reject Democrats’ call to regulate the internet as a public utility in the wake of Facebook, Apple, and YouTube’s ban of conspiracy theorist Alex Jones. And they mourn for Venezuelans as dictator Nicolas Maduro survived a botched drone assassination attempt, and they discuss regulations on drones and the potential to use them for terrorism.
With the reversal of the Obama-era net neutrality policy set to take effect June 1, Democrats and some Republicans are scrambling to block the move legislatively, but an FCC commissioner says none of the nightmare scenarios are going to play out, many people completely miss what’s really changing, and the biggest changes likely to come from the policy change will be better, faster, and cheaper broadband.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Senate voted 52-47 through the Congressional Review Act to reverse the FCC’s December action on net neutrality. Supporters of the resolution, including three Republicans, fear that ending net neutrality will result in slower or less reliable internet service and more predatory behavior by internet service providers, or ISP’s, towards consumers, by rolling back consumer protections.
FCC Commissioner Brendan Carr says the internet will simply revert to the pre-2015 policy, which was not a time of anarchy.
“We aren’t opening up the world to some Mad Max version of the internet, where ISP’s now have free reign to dictate their online experience. What we’re doing is going back to the same legal framework that was in place in 2015 and for the 20 years before that where consumers are fully protected and wee saw massive investment in our broadband infrastructure,” said Carr.
Come June 1, he says no one will be able to tell anything has changed when they log onto the web.
“In terms of your day-to-day online experience, what you see the day these rules are removed is going to be identical to what you see the day before they’re removed,” said Carr.
But there will likely be a major impact that consumers will enjoy down the road.
“What we’ve seen principally (under net neutrality) is a pretty sharp decline in investment in the broadband space,” he said. “The one difference we’re hoping they’re going to see that some of the decline in investment, hopefully we will see a reversal in that.”
So what’s behind the protests?
“I think a lot of what we’re seeing, by advocacy groups or otherwise, is intentional misrepresentations about what this issue is about purely – and I think this has been stated publicly by others – for partisan electoral politics,” said Carr.
Carr’s greatest frustration is that many of the vociferous opponents to the new FCC policy don’t seem to realize what is changing and what is not. He says the biggest change is how the internet is classified in federal law.
“The debate is really about this Title II framework, not really about the rules themselves, and the negative impact we’ve seen in terms of investment is because of the broad Title II framework,” said Carr.
When the Obama-era FCC instituted net neutrality in 2015, it allowed the federal government to regulate the internet based on the Communications Act of 1934. It’s that additional regulation that Carr and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai contend is creating disincentives for internet service providers to invest in upgrading and improving their products.
But what about the consumer protection policies? Carr says that is easy to remedy.
“If you get down to the nitty gritty, it’s about the rules: no blocking, no throttling, no broken promises in terms of what you’re getting. There’s a tremendous amount of common ground. I’d be perfectly fine if Congress were to step in and adopt those types of specific rules,” said Carr.
He says efforts are underway to provide consumer protections through legislation rather than regulation, but only one party seems to have much interest.
“There are Republicans in Congress who have already introduced a standalone net neutrality bill and they’re not getting any traction in terms of a bipartisan group that will stand behind these bills.
“Unfortunately, there’s been so much of this focus on trying to go back to this Title II framework when I think it’s a pretty short putt…to try to enshrine the actual rules that consumers care about into law,” said Carr.
Carr firmly believes unleashing the incentives for ISP’s to invest in emerging technology will mean a much better experience for internet users much sooner than they would have gotten it under Title II regulation.
‘We’re at an interesting time from a technology perspective. We’ve got this new generation of low-earth orbit satellites – these thousand satellite constellations that people are investing in now and potentially going to launch in a couple of years. That could change the game for satellite broadband.
“We’ve got these new fixed wireless broadband applications which could give you – over the air – gigabit speeds. We could see greater competition with cable. And we’ve got 5G, this next generation of wireless broadband that going to, again, by gigabit-style speeds.
“In the not-too-distant future, these technologies and the regulatory work we’re doing at the commission right now to cut red tape and enable them. It’s going to to serve consumers and so I’m really optimistic about where we’re going in this space,” said Carr.
On December 14, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to roll back Obama-era internet regulations, a move that one commissioner says will reinvigorate broadband innovation and reduce the government’s influence over the internet while keep important consumer protections in place.
“We have five commissioners at the FCC. Each commissioner gets to cast their own vote their own way. I’ll be voting ‘yes’ in favor of this plan. So we should know right then as soon as the gavel strikes where the votes are and the public will get to see it,” said Brendan Carr, who was nominated to the FCC by President Trump earlier this year. He was confirmed and sworn in to his post in August.
The FCC effort is in response to a 2015 decision to apply Title II of the 1934 Communications Act to the internet. Democratic appointees controlled the panel at the time and made the changes out of fears that internet service providers, or ISP’s, would soon be in a position to demand the purchase of services at whatever prices they wished.
Known as net neutrality, Carr says the new rules badly misapplied laws designed to address telephone service and actually wound up with the federal government micromanaging the internet and its providers.
“[Title II] arises from the 1930’s and was designed to regulate the Ma Bell telephone monopoly. It’s not designed to regulate a fast-moving, competitive marketplace. Pursuant to that re-classification, it then adopted a series of open internet rules,” said Carr.
Other than keeping some consumer protections, Carr says the policing of the ISP’s will effectively revert to the way the internet operated before 2015. Nonetheless, opposition to the plan is fierce.
Critics fear the major ISP’s – AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon – will force smaller players out of the marketplace and be free to burden consumers with mandates and higher prices.
Some activists go so far as to accuse FCC Chairman Ajit Pai of murdering democracy through this initiative.
“There is a lot of fear-mongering out there. Someone wrote me, saying that without the FCC’s Title II, Justin Bieber never would have been discovered online because he was discovered through YouTube videos. He was discovered long before the FCC’s 2015 Title II decision.
“I get it. This is the internet. This is the government being in this space. People are naturally reacting very passionately but it’s misplaced at the end of the day,” said Carr.
For casual internet users, perhaps little seems to have changed since 2015. So what impact has net neutrality had in the past two years?
“Over the last two years, we’ve seen a decline in investment in broadband networks as a result of the Title II re-classification.
“We’ve also seen ISP’s that were going to upgrade the networks, that were going to deploy new antennas, to get get new services out there pull back on those new deployments. We’ve seen some innovative new offerings from providers that have been kept on the shelf because of this massive regulatory overreach that’s associated with Title II,” said Carr.
He says reverting to the previous standards, known as Title I, many of these frustrations will fade away.
“We’re going back to the model we had in 2015. There’s a lot of confusion about eliminating all protections that consumers have online. Far from it. There are numerous consumer protections that are going to be at the core of net neutrality that are going to stay in place, just like we had them in 2015,” said Carr.
In fact, Carr says Title II actually eroded key consumer protections provided by the Federal Trade Commission and the current FCC proposal would revive them,
“By reversing Title II, we re-vest the Federal Trade Commission with authority to protect consumers that come into place because of that.
“Relatedly, consumers care passionately about their personal information and privacy online. The FTC is the nation’s premier enforcement body when it comes to online privacy. But again, because of Title II, that authority as it applies to ISP’s has been carved out. We haven’t had those protections for the past two years. We’re going to get more privacy protections as a result of this vote,” said Carr.
One of the great fears of those opposed to the current FCC plan is that rolling back net neutrality would give too much power to internet service providers. For example, they’re concerned providers could force you to use their products as a condition of being a customer and then jack up prices as much as they wish.
Carr says he’s heard that concern but doesn’t think there’s much evidence that it will happen. He says net neutrality did nothing for the price of internet service.
“Title II is not the thin line between where we are today and some of those stories that you’re talking about, price regulation for instance. Title II, right now, is not directing the prices ISP’s charge. Title II is not stopping them from offering bundled services or a curated internet experience.
“We didn’t see it before Title II. We’re not seeing it during Title II. There’s other reasons for that, including competition, fear of subscriber loss from engaging in that conduct. Those other reasons that we’re not seeing will stay in place after Title II. It’s a misplaced view of what Title II is doing right now,” said Carr.
Carr believes all sides will benefit from the government taking more of a hands-off approach to the internet.
“I don’t think there’s going to be a downside after moving forward with this. I think ISP’s are going to continue to invest, consumers are going to continue to have a free and open internet. And the edge providers – like NetFlix, Twitter and Facebook – are also going to continue to be able to benefit from a free and open internet,” said Carr.