Speaker Boehner's Space Odyssey

On Monday, House Speaker John Boehner (R - AT&T) chose the occasion of his first address outside Washington to take aim at Net Neutrality.

While the speaker may have traveled 650 miles to Nashville to deliver this attack, his speech came from the far reaches of the solar system, detached from the space-time continuum that keeps us earthlings rooted to reality.

"The FCC is creeping further into the free market by trying to regulate the Internet," the speaker said referring to the agency's Open Internet rules issued last December.

"'Network neutrality,' they call it. It's a series of regulations that empower the federal bureaucracy to regulate Internet content and viewpoint discrimination," he imagined, pledging to use the full powers at his disposal "to fight [this] government takeover of the Internet."

The speaker's bold stand for free speech would be inspirational if it were connected to reality in any way. Instead, he is parroting talking points from industry lobbyists, and front groups and intentionally misleading the public.

Open Internet protections actually prevent Speaker Boehner's dark scenario from happening: They forbid companies from unfairly blocking or degrading Internet websites and applications while keeping control over Internet content in the hands of end users -- people like you and me.

The speaker knows full well that real Net Neutrality has nothing to do with a government takeover of the Internet.

"He's playing dog-whistle politics and stoking irrational fears of government repression, while raking in campaign contributions from the phone and cable companies," Free Press President Josh Silver said in a statement.

In the Nashville audience was Marsha Blackburn (R - Verizon), the member of Congress who has introduced legislation to strip the FCC of any Net Neutrality protection powers.

Speaker Boehner is also working alongside Rep. Greg Walden (R - NCTA) who has introduced a congressional resolution of disapproval that would reverse the FCC's past Net Neutrality rules and prohibit the agency from acting in any way as a watchdog of the open Internet.

Their plan to ban Net Neutrality would hand over our freedom to connect and speak freely via the web to Comcast, Verizon and AT&T - with no recourse for the public when they block any content they don't like for any reason.

"There's no government takeover, there's no censorship, and there's no gatekeeper when there's Net Neutrality -- that's the whole point," Silver said. "The government doesn't decide what's available, and neither does your Internet service provider. Speaker Boehner knows the truth, but telling the truth won't help his patrons on K Street."


According to reports on Monday, cable operator and Internet service provider Mediacom has been caught hijacking its users' browsers and injecting unsolicited ads.

Disturbingly the ads themselves seem targeted to the individual user interests of the companies more than 750,000 broadband subscribers. According to Karl Bode of DSLReports, Mediacom "has apparently implemented deep packet inspection and DNS redirection advertising technology our users say is difficult to opt out of."

For those not familiar with deep packet inspection, or DPI, it's a technology that allows network managers to spy on, track and target user Internet content as our communications pass through routers along the Information Superhighway.

Using DPI is akin to having toll booth collectors inspect the contents of your car trunk to determine where you're going and what billboards you will see alongside the highway.

Screen shots taken by Mediacom users show a large banner ad for Mediacom's own discount phone service placed above the top of third-party Web page content, including Apple.com and Google.com.

"Mediacom's egregious actions provide yet another example of a cable company interfering with its subscribers' use of the Internet," Free Press Policy Counsel Aparna Sridhar said in a statement.

Like Comcast and Charter before it, Mediacom's actions reveal the gatekeeper tendencies of network operators.

If Boehner and his cronies succeed in eliminating online consumer protections, these corporation won't hesitate to monitor user traffic and meddle with our digital freedoms.