National Religious Broadcasters, the televangelist group that pledges to “be for the First Amendment what the NRA is for the Second Amendment,” today blasted President Obama’s support for net neutrality, saying that the president’s position “sends a particularly poor signal to communist China.”
In a statement, NRB calls net neutrality a “power grab of the internet” and says that the policy somehow threatens “free speech” and distracts from the Federal Communications Commission’s mission of “promoting the values of free speech, free exercise of religion, and a free press for citizen user-generated content that is transmitted over the Internet.”
Dr. Jerry A. Johnson, President & CEO of NRB, spoke out today against the President’s call for increased government control over the Internet.
“Free speech and free enterprise are the bedrock of the Internet,” stated Dr. Johnson. “This federal power grab being advocated by President Obama is, unfortunately, right in line with others by this Administration. It sends a particularly poor signal to communist China, where he is visiting this week.”
“Let me say that the President does have a valid concern that providers not block legal online content that they do not prefer or like,” continued Dr. Johnson. “Indeed, I would challenge him to consider that ‘edge providers’ like Facebook also should not engage in viewpoint censorship.”
“However, he is very wrong to insist that the FCC unilaterally assume heavy-handed Title II authority over the Internet,” asserted Dr. Johnson. “If the FCC feels it needs such power, the Executive Branch should ask Congress for it, and see what the people’s representatives permit. That is how our Republic works.”
In its public filing last summer with the FCC on this net neutrality proceeding, NRB stated:
We believe that the Commission has sufficient, though narrow, authority under section 706, as well as ancillary jurisdiction under Title I of the Communications Act of 1934, to provide an adequate basis for limited, restrained jurisdiction; but asserting jurisdiction under Title II with its heavy hand of telecommunications regulations is ill-advised….Moreover, we believe that this narrow range of FCC authority should be fixed on two objectives: (1) fostering competitive, free enterprise innovation regarding Internet services, applications, and devices, and (2) promoting the values of free speech, free exercise of religion, and a free press for citizen user-generated content that is transmitted over the Internet.