The biggest reason for the disturbing shift away from free speech is the 21st-century’s global public square: the Internet. The proclaimed reasons for allowing those in power to diminish our free speech on the World Wide Web are: “disinformation” and “hate speech.” The good and bad on the Internet reflect the good and bad in the real world and when we regulate the flow of information online, the same careful balance between blocking truly dangerous actors, while retaining maximum freedom and democracy, must apply. The New World Order needs control over the Internet because many of these world think tanks and bureaucrats have always seen this global computer communication network as an out-of-control information source. Tonight on Ground Zero, Clyde Lewis talks with Libertarian and author, Michael Rectenwald about ANTIESTABLISHMENTINTERNETARIANISM.
Here is something that will make you feel ancient — the internet as it is today is 30 years old. On April 30, 1993, the researchers at CERN launched the World Wide Web. It was an invention that put encyclopedia salesmen out of work. It is the invention that both Metallica and Gene Simmons of Kiss said killed the music industry.
It was an opportunity for businessmen to make their storefronts. Bloggers started expressing themselves. Pornographers started peddling their sex tapes of Tommy Lee and Pamela Anderson.
It was a free-for-all all moving at a very slow pace. But with more power and faster connections — the internet was the little engine that could and soon it became a news source, a well of information both real and somewhat outrageous.
At first, it was seen as a fad– but others saw it as a dangerous tool for exposing fraud and malfeasance in government.
It then was seen by Congress as a tool of the devil. They warned that children were being subjected to sex and violence — and immediately there was talk of it being controlled by the government.
There was worry that there was discrimination on the net and so there were again talks about the FCC imposing Net Neutrality.
Net neutrality is the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally, without any discrimination. This approach means that internet service providers should not be allowed to speed up, slow down, or block access to specific websites or online services.
The internet was becoming a focal point for controls on speech and diversity– and so many wanted control over the hearts and minds of the world.
It is becoming apparent that those who seek world dominance wish to again step in and create an internet that seeks to eliminate freedom of speech and expression.
It used to be a truth universally acknowledged by citizens of democratic nations that freedom of speech was the basis not just of democracy, but of all human rights.
When a person or group can censor the speech of others, there is – by definition – an imbalance of power. Those exercising the power can decide what information and which opinions are allowed, and which should be suppressed. To maintain their power, they will naturally suppress information and views that challenge their position.
Free speech is the only peaceful way to hold those in power accountable, challenge potentially harmful policies, and expose corruption. Those of us privileged to live in democracies instinctively understand this nearly sacred value of free speech in maintaining our free and open societies.
Or do we?
Alarmingly, it seems like many people in what we call democratic nations are losing that understanding. And they seem willing to cede their freedom of speech to governments, organizations, and Big Tech companies who, supposedly, need to control the flow of information to keep everyone “safe.”
The reason for the disturbing shift away from free speech is the 21st-century’s global public square: the Internet. And the proclaimed reasons for allowing those in power to diminish our free speech on the Internet are: “disinformation” and “hate speech.”
We are now witnessing the big test on the internet during wartime –and authorities of course believe that we are failing that test.
Now more than ever are we hearing that the internet is nurturing antisemitism and that white supremacists are pushing the hate against the Jews.
However, the hardest pill to swallow is the fact that many leftist groups are finding their voice siding with Hamas.
And as the DNC has been attacked in Washington D.C. it appears that we do not have prominent democrats decry the violence as much as they did during January 6th.
However, they are the first to say that the internet needs to be controlled to prevent conspiracy theories, lies, and hate speech.
Lies, propaganda, “deep fakes,” and all manner of misleading information have always been present on the Internet. The vast global information hub inevitably provides opportunities for criminals and other nefarious actors, including child sex traffickers and evil dictators.
At the same time, the Internet has become the central location of open discourse for the world’s population, democratizing access to information and the ability to publish one’s views to a global audience.
The good and bad on the Internet reflect the good and bad in the real world. And when we regulate the flow of information on the Internet, the same careful balance between blocking truly dangerous actors, while retaining maximum freedom and democracy, must apply.
The World order needs control over the internet because many of these world think tanks and bureaucrats have always seen the internet as an out-of-control information source:
The Council on Europe states that “Propaganda, misinformation and fake news have the potential to polarize public opinion, to promote violent extremism and hate speech and, ultimately, to undermine democracies and reduce trust in the democratic processes.”
The United Nations adds that “The world must address the grave global harm caused by the proliferation of hate and lies in the digital space,”
And finally, your friends at the World Economic Forum say that “Online hate speech and disinformation have long incited violence, and sometimes mass atrocities.”
I am wondering what mass atrocities are referring to.
They are just making up an existential threat — like they always do when they feel their power is threatened.
This is why they are seeking control of the internet — it is a danger to their power.
In its Common Agenda Policy Brief from June 2023, Information Integrity on Digital Platforms, the UN details the international legal framework for efforts to counter hate speech and disinformation.
Then, the UN brief explains that disinformation and hate speech are such colossal, all-encompassing evils that their very existence is antithetical to the enjoyment of any human rights:
The hyperbole to back their crusade is over the top.
Hate speech has been a precursor to atrocity crimes, including genocide. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide prohibits “direct and public incitement to commit genocide”.
In its resolution 76/227, adopted in 2021, the General Assembly emphasized that all forms of disinformation can negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals. Similarly, in its resolution 49/21, adopted in 2022, the Human Rights Council affirmed that disinformation can negatively affect the enjoyment and realization of all human rights.
This convoluted maze of legalese leads to an absurd, self-contradictory sequence of illogic– but this is not stopping the encroachment of world think tanks and so-called leaders.
Last Month The Canadian regulatory body that oversees radio, television, and online streaming services put out a news release stating that Any online streaming service that operates in Canada, offers broadcasting content, and earns more than $10 million in annual revenue will need to complete a registration form. The deadline was this month — November.
This includes online services that offer podcasts, the release stated.
The move has drawn some criticism on social media as well as in op-eds in several Canadian news outlets, which suggest that the rule is the beginning of an effort by the government to control speech on podcasts.
Of course, the Canadian government headed by the World Economic Forum, zombie Justin Trudeau denies this.
Here in us, as we have been distracted by war propaganda and tirades between media and the general public on the issue of Israel, The FCC voted on a plan that gives the Federal government full control over the Internet.
The plan passed by a 3-2 margin. A press release posted immediately after the meeting stated, in part,
“Under the new rules, the Commission can investigate possible instances of discrimination of broadband access, work with companies to solve problems, facilitate mediation, and, when necessary, penalize companies for violating the rules.
The FCC will review consumer complaints of digital discrimination of access through an improved consumer complaint portal and staff will meet monthly to assess trends in complaint patterns. Finally, the Commission adopted model policies and best practices that will support states, local and Tribal governments in their efforts to combat digital discrimination.”
The decision means that the Biden Administration is well on its way to implementing the plan that FCC commissioner Brendan Carr said: “…reads like a planning document drawn up in the faculty lounge of a university’s Soviet Studies Department.” Commissioner Carr sent out his letter of dissent last week to warn the public about this “unlawful power grab” that “chooses central planning over free market capitalism.”
The plan is marketed as though it will prevent digital discrimination and a way to ensure equal access to broadband internet in the United States. While equal access is a component of liberty and freedom, this plan gives sweeping access and regulatory control over all aspects of the Internet business. According to the plan document, the FCC would have the power to regulate the following aspects as it relates to each Internet Service Provider:
“Network infrastructure deployment, network reliability, network upgrades, network maintenance, customer-premises equipment, and installation, speeds, capacities, latency, data caps, throttling, pricing, promotional rates, imposition of late fees, opportunity for equipment rental, installation time, contract renewal terms, service termination terms, and use of customer credit and account history, mandatory arbitration clauses, pricing, deposits, discounts, customer service, language options, credit checks, marketing or advertising, contract renewal, upgrades, account termination, transfers to another covered entity, and service suspension.”
The plan goes on to state that all these aspects need to be within the realm of Federal regulation because they could all affect a consumer’s ability to access broadband. The plan further states, “Consequently, we agree with Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law that adopting a flexible approach is necessary ‘to capture the long tail of intangible variables that are difficult to list exhaustively and are subject to change.’ Second, our definition provides us with the advantage of flexibility, which will “future-proof” our rules as technologies, policies, and practices change over time. For these reasons, we reject the argument that by including certain quality of service metrics in 60506(a)(2), Congress foreclosed consideration of other measurable elements of service quality in evaluating whether equal access has been achieved.”
Governments throughout history have been known to abuse power, which was the basis of the three branches of government enshrined in the Constitution. These branches provide checks and balances.
It is well-known how slow the court systems can work to check executive power. The Biden administration’s FCC is asking to have access to regulate all aspects of business for private ISPs in addition to landlords, banks, construction crews, and marketing agencies.
The authors of this plan tried to leave as much leeway for any potential ‘need’ to regulate any industry now or in the future. As technology advances, they want to be sure they have regulatory control to ensure private companies are not discriminating against any group of people by not providing equal access to services.
The FCC is now empowered for the first time, to regulate every ISP’s service termination terms, use of customer credit, account history, credit checks, and account termination, among many other items.
For years now, we have suffered the injustices, cruelties, corruption and abuse of an entrenched government bureaucracy that has no regard for the Constitution or the rights of the citizenry.
Unelected bureaucrats and Deep State operatives are the ones that affected elections, altered by populist movements, and have set themselves beyond the reach of the law.
The more we counteract their disinformation and propaganda the more they wish to turn the tables and punish us.
We are overdue for a systemic check on the government’s overreaches and power grabs.
We have lingered too long in this strange twilight zone where ego trumps justice, propaganda perverts truth, and imperial presidents—are empowered to indulge their authoritarian tendencies by legalistic courts, corrupt legislatures, and a disinterested, distracted populace.
They are now scaring us by saying that freedom of speech leads to all sorts of horrible atrocities like genocide.
According to the WEF, “Governments can provide some of the most significant solutions to the crisis by enacting far-reaching regulations.”
Which is exactly what they’re doing.
In the US, freedom of speech is enshrined in the Constitution, so it’s hard to pass laws that might violate it.
However, it is hard to fight for your freedom of speech when so many people are given free rein to violate it — and the secret pass laws to condemn it.
The oppressive regimes like Hitler’s Nazis, and Stalin’s communism destroyed people’s abilities to speak out about atrocities and that is what created the environment for genocide, the holocaust, and many other horrible events in our history.
In some cases, companies may even take it upon themselves to control the narrative according to their own politics and professed values, with no need for government intervention. For example: Google, the most powerful information company in the world, has been reported to fix its algorithms to promote, demote, and disappear content according to undisclosed internal “fairness” guidelines.
We are at a pivotal moment in the history of Western democracies. Governments, organizations and companies have more power than ever to decide what information and views are expressed on the Internet, the global public square of information and ideas.
Naturally, those in power should want to limit the expression of ideas and dissemination of information that might challenge their position. They may believe they are using censorship to protect us from the grave harms of disinformation and hate speech, or they may be using those reasons cynically to consolidate their control over the flow of information.
Either way, censorship inevitably entails the suppression of free speech and information, without which democracy cannot exist.
Where we find ourselves now is in the unenviable position of needing to rein in all three branches of government—the Executive, the Judicial, and the Legislative—that have exceeded their authority and grown drunk on power.
Unadulterated power in any branch of government is a menace to freedom. There’s no point debating which political party would be more dangerous with these powers.
The fact that any individual—or branch of government—of any political persuasion is empowered to act like a dictator is dangerous enough.
Why are the citizens of democratic nations acquiescing to the usurpation of their fundamental human rights? One reason may be the relatively abstract nature of rights and freedoms in the digital realm.
In the past, when censors burned books or jailed dissidents, citizens could easily recognize these harms and imagine how awful it would be if such negative actions were turned against them. They could also weigh the very personal and imminent negative impact of widespread censorship against much less prevalent dangers, such as child sex trafficking or genocide. Not that those dangers would be ignored or downplayed, but it would be clear that measures to combat such dangers should not include widespread book burning or jailing of regime opponents.
In the virtual world, if it’s not your post that is removed, or your video that is banned, it can be difficult to fathom the wide-ranging harm of massive online information control and censorship.
It is also much easier online than in the real world to exaggerate the dangers of relatively rare threats, like pandemics or foreign interference in democratic processes. The same powerful people, governments, and companies that can censor online information can also flood the online space with propaganda, terrifying citizens in the virtual space into giving up their real-world rights.
We are ruled by an elite class of individuals who are completely out of touch with the average American.
But they are being told that their power is being undermined by people who are fed up with how things have been purposefully run into the ground.
The conundrum for free and open societies has always been the same: How to protect human rights and democracy from hate speech and disinformation without destroying human rights and democracy in the process.
The answer embodied in the recent coordinated enactment of global censorship laws is not encouraging for the future of free and open societies.
Dr. Michael Rectenwald is the author of twelve books and was a Professor of Liberal Studies and Global Liberal Studies at NYU from 2008 to 2019. Michael’s writing for general audiences has appeared in numerous publications and he’s been a guest on major network political talk shows, syndicated radio shows, and podcasts. Professor Michael Rectenwald has spoken to audiences large and small in many venues.
A former Marxist, Rectenwald is a champion of liberty and opposes all forms of totalitarianism and political authoritarianism, including socialism-communism, “social justice,” fascism, political correctness, and “woke” ideology.
His website is http://www.michaelrectenwald.com/
His book that is relevant to tonight’s topic is Google Archipelago: https://www.amazon.com/Google-