Glenn Beck again claimed that proposed net neutrality rules are “basically a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet” and would allow the government to “control what you see on the Internet.” In fact, net neutrality prohibits Internet service providers from controlling access to Internet content, and -- contrary to Beck's suggestion -- would not require Fox to change its content.
Beck falsely claims net neutrality is “basically a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet”
Beck: “They want to make sure that you can get the Huffington Post on Fox News.” On the November 22 edition of his Fox News program, Beck claimed that net neutrality rules would require conservative news outlets to provide progressive content, falsely comparing net neutrality to the Fairness Doctrine. He added: “They want to make sure that you can get the Huffington Post on Fox News. No, thank you. They're about to control what you see on the Internet.”
From the November 22 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck:
BECK: The next thing I want you to consider is net neutrality -- the FCC over Congress. We told you that Congress was making itself irrelevant. They couldn't get net neutrality through Congress. Well, the FCC is announcing plans next week for regulations that would ban ISPs like Comcast from blocking or favoring content online. This is basically a Fairness Doctrine for the Internet.
America, you lose the Internet, you lose the war, I think. Cass Sunstein said it was bad for people that they could seek out information that only fits their point of view. They want to make sure that you can get the Huffington Post on Fox News. No, thank you. They're about to control what you see on the Internet. And Congress doesn't even have a say anymore. They're being completely circumvented. Comcast, I believe, will most likely go for it, because they're takeover of NBC? I'll bet you that's being held hostage.
On The O'Reilly Factor, Beck repeated falsehood that net neutrality is “the Fairness Doctrine on the Internet.” Beck repeated his claim that net neutrality is “basically the Fairness Doctrine on the Internet” during his appearance on Bill O'Reilly's Fox News show on November 22. Beck also asserted that it is “correct” that "[t]hose on the left" “want to regulate Internet content.” From the November 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
BECK: They're going for -- on the Internet, they're going for net neutrality through the FCC. They're bypassing Congress and going to try to regulate the Internet. What was it? Next week, I think they're trying to do that.
O'REILLY: Who's -- wait, wait. I don't understand. Who's they?
BECK: The left.
O'REILLY: OK. They want to -- net neutrality, what does that mean?
BECK: Net neutrality -- what it is, is they say you can't -- it's basically the Fairness Doctrine on the Internet.
O'REILLY: So they want to regulate Internet content?
O'REILLY: Those on the left.
O'REILLY: Why would they want to do that? It's a leftwing cesspool.
BECK: How did it -- how great was it for the left when you shut down opposing voices on talk radio?
Fairness Doctrine required broadcasters to present opposing views on controversial issues. As noted by FoxNews.com in February 2009, “The Fairness Doctrine was adopted in 1949 and held that broadcasters were obligated to provide opposing points of views on controversial issues of national importance. It was halted under the Reagan administration.” Net neutrality would in no way dictate how media outlets report or comment on the news.
Net neutrality would not allow government to dictate content on the Internet
In fact, net neutrality prohibits Internet Service Providers from controlling access to Internet content. Contrary to claims that net neutrality allows the government to control content on the Internet, the Congressional Research Service states that net neutrality is the principle that “owners of the networks that compose and provide access to the Internet should not control how consumers lawfully use that network; and should not be able to discriminate against content provider access to that network.”
Wash. Post: Net neutrality is “idea that all traffic on the Internet should travel at the same speed.” The Washington Post reported on October 28:
Net neutrality -- the idea that all traffic on the Internet should travel at the same speed -- has been a point of contention for the Federal Communications Commission, which is proposing regulations that would ensure that broadband service providers treat all Web traffic equally.
The FCC wants to prevent Internet service providers from blocking Web applications or slowing the transmission of Web sites. It is unclear if those rules would apply to wireless networks and companies such as Verizon and Google, which want network carriers to be able to charge companies willing to pay for faster channels on their networks.
Christian Coalition, Parents Television Council support net neutrality. In its support for net neutrality, the Christian Coalition stated that this “is an issue extremely important to America's grassroots organizations and to those Americans who want to ensure the cable and phone companies controlling access to the Internet will not discriminate. ... Net Neutrality is the reason why the Internet has grown the way it has and become such an indispensible tool in our lives and our civic discourse.” The Christian Coalition and the Parents Television Council are charter members of a group of people and organizations that “are working together to urge Congress to preserve Net Neutrality.” The founder of the Parents Television Council is Brent Bozell, who frequently appears on Fox News.
Internet pioneers and leaders credit net neutrality as guiding principle in growth and competition
“Father of the internet” and pioneering scientists support net neutrality rules. In an October 15, 2009, letter to FCC chairman Julius Genachowski, Internet pioneers Vinton G. Cerf, Stephen D. Crocker, David P. Reed, Lauren Weinstein, and Daniel Lynch wrote, “We believe that the vast numbers of innovative Internet applications over the last decade are a direct consequence of an open and freely accessible Internet.” The scientists also stated that the “network neutrality proposal's key principles of 'nondiscrimination' and 'transparency' are necessary components of a pro-innovation public policy agenda for this nation. ... [N]etwork neutrality proposals will help protect U.S. Internet users' choices for and freedom to access all available Internet services, worldwide.” As FoxNews.com itself notes, Cerf is “often called 'the father of the Internet.' ”
Internet pioneering companies support net neutrality for growth and creativity. In an October 19, 2009, letter to Genachowski, the CEOs of Amazon.com, Craigslist, Digg, eBay, Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter, among numerous others, wrote in support of net neutrality, stating that “America's leadership in the technology space has been due, in large part, to the open Internet.” From the letter:
For most of the Internet's history, FCC rules have ensured that consumers have been able to choose the content and services they want over their Internet connections. Entrepreneurs, technologists, and venture capitalists have previously been able to develop new online products and services with the guarantee of neutral, nondiscriminatory access by users, which has fueled an unprecedented era of economic growth and creativity. Existing businesses have been able to leverage the power of the Internet to develop innovative product lines, reach new consumers, and create new ways of doing business.
America's leadership in the technology space has been due, in large part, to the open Internet. We applaud your leadership in initiating a process to develop rules to ensure that the qualities that have made the Internet so successful are protected.
Berners-Lee, described by Fox News as the World Wide Web's creator, calls net neutrality vital for innovation, diversity. In a June 2006 post on his blog, Tim Berners-Lee -- who FoxNews.com noted “created a computer-based system for sharing information with colleagues around the world [World Wide Web]” -- wrote: “When I invented the Web, I didn't have to ask anyone's permission. Now, hundreds of millions of people are using it freely. I am worried that that is going end in the USA. ... I hope that Congress can protect net neutrality, so I can continue to innovate in the internet space. I want to see the explosion of innovations happening out there on the Web, so diverse and so exciting, continue unabated.”
Investors who “brought us the Mac, Tweets and Internet search” support net neutrality. WashingtonPost.com telecommunications reporter Cecilia Kang noted on October 20, 2009, that the “people who invested the money that eventually brought us the Mac, Tweets and Internet search ... threw their support behind a push for proposed net neutrality rules, saying clear regulations that prevent Internet services providers from blocking the applications they help fund would spur growth in one of the brightest sectors of the economy.” The investors stated in a letter that the “promise of permanently securing an open Internet will deliver consumers and innovators a perfect free market that drives investment, job creation, and consumer welfare.” Kang reported that the letter's signers included investors who helped start Amazon, Sun Microsystems, Google, Skype, Hotmail, Twitter, and Yelp.
Google: “Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days,” allowing innovation. In its explanation of net neutrality, Google wrote that the “Internet has operated according to this neutrality principle since its earliest days. Indeed, it is this neutrality that has allowed many companies, including Google, to launch, grow, and innovate. Fundamentally, net neutrality is about equal access to the Internet. In our view, the broadband carriers should not be permitted to use their market power to discriminate against competing applications or content. Just as telephone companies are not permitted to tell consumers who they can call or what they can say, broadband carriers should not be allowed to use their market power to control activity online.”
Beck wrongly suggests Sunstein wants to require websites to present opposing views
Beck: “Cass Sunstein said it was bad for people that they could seek out information that only fits their point of view.” During the segment, Beck said: “Cass Sunstein said it was bad for people that they could seek out information that only fits their point of view. They want to make sure that you can get the Huffington Post on Fox News. No, thank you. They're about to control what you see on the Internet.”
Sunstein said it was a “bad idea” for government to require websites to provide opposing viewpoints. PolitiFact.com reported that in his 2002 book, Republic.com, “Sunstein talks about the idea of the government requiring sites to link to opposing views.” However, PolitiFact further reported:
In a later edition of the book released in 2007, Republic.com 2.0 , Sunstein tempers that position, advocating instead for the creation of public spaces on the Internet where people with differing viewpoints could share their ideas with one another.
But in a video interview on the Web site Bloggerheads.tv on Feb. 29, 2008, Sunstein actually goes a little bit farther than that, calling it a “bad idea” he should never have ventured.
Asked to explain some of the differences between the first book, what Sunstein called “the initial inadequate edition,” and its successor, Sunstein said, “To me, the most important (difference) is that the first Republic.com was full of some bad policy recommendations and I was able to get rid of those. So I feel the book has been corrected.”
“The initial book was interested in at least considering some government mandates that would require people to link to opposing views, that would require some attention to arguments that maybe had been neglected,” Sunstein said. “And while the book Republic.com was pretty tentative about that, to be tentative about a bad idea, it's probably better not to even venture a bad idea. Some of the bad ideas I ventured tentatively as worth considering in Republic.com , in 2.0 I say they'd be bad ideas and they'd be unconstitutional.”
Contrary to Beck's suggestion, Sunstein's discussion of this topic is entirely unrelated to net neutrality.
Beck has a history of misinforming about net neutrality
Beck claimed net neutrality is “a way to control voices.” On the January 19 edition of his Fox News show [accessed via Nexis], Beck claimed, “FCC, they want net neutrality with Obama. That's the big push. Net neutrality, it's a way to control voices.”
Beck: “So we have Marxists that are designing and working on net neutrality -- are believers in net neutrality” to “control content.” During the October 20, 2009, edition of his Fox News program, Beck claimed that “we have Marxists that are designing and working on net neutrality -- are big believers in net neutrality, right? Gosh, it does seem that these would be the wrong people to help, you know, innovate business for it. And so what they want to do is, if I can do the third one, control content.”