In his U.S. State of the Union speech on Tuesday, which addressed primarily the U.S. economy and aiding the middle class, Obama made promises to push for net neutrality rules and to be more transparent regarding the government’s surveillance programs. Additionally, he promised to push for the deployment of next generation broadband networks. The U.S. is far behind the speed of many other first world countries in terms of internet speed, so such a promise is highly desired by the American people. Obama also called on the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to pass strong net neutrality rules and to lighten limitations caused by state legislation regarding municipal broadband projects.
In the past few years, Obama has tried multiple times to pass laws to restrict the Internet. He tried to pass laws like SOPA and PIPA which would allow the government to censor the Internet like China does currently. There was widespread outrage and backlash as millions of people and many corporate giants including Google and Amazon “blacked out” the internet as a public demonstration to crush the bill – and won. Both SOPA and PIPA were crushed, as well as a little of Obama’s pride as his socialist agenda was interfered with.
However, now that Obama’s socialist plans to censor the internet have been crushed, Obama flip-flopped and is now saying he wants to do the opposite – the thing we the people wanted in the first place – a free and open internet. Obama stated, “I intend to protect a free and open internet, extend its reach to every classroom, and every community, and help folks build the fastest networks, so that the next generation of digital innovators and entrepreneurs have the platform to keep reshaping our world”.
Additionally he promised to work toward a new package of cybersecurity legislation, including legal protections for businesses that share cyberthreat information with the government. However, in these legal protections he stated plans to criminalize violations of terms of service in computer and software products, a push that could in fact bring more, not less legislation and penalties to the American people, especially from “white-hat” hackers, a type of legal hacker that often works in data security.
Obama stated during his speech, “No foreign nation, no hacker, should be able to shut down our networks, steal our trade secrets, or invade the privacy of American families, especially our kids,” Obama said. “We are making sure our government integrates intelligence to combat cyberthreats, just as we have done to combat terrorism.”
Obama seems to be using the recent publicity and hacking attempts to convince the American people to accept more legislation and give him and the government more power – the last thing we want. Obama continued with emotional rhetoric aimed at manipulating the American people, “if we don’t act, we’ll leave our nation and our economy vulnerable,” he said. Clearly a fearmongering tactic.
Regarding the U.S. government’s controversial surveillance programs, Obama said the U.S. must uphold its commitment to civil liberties “if we want maximum cooperation from other countries and industry in our fight against terrorist networks.” I wonder what his agenda really is.
He promised a new report on surveillance programs and privacy next month. “While some have moved on from the debates over our surveillance programs, I haven’t,” he said. “As promised, our intelligence agencies have worked hard, with the recommendations of privacy advocates, to increase transparency and build more safeguards against potential abuse.”
Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa, giving the Republican response to the State of the Union, largely criticized Obama’s foreign policy. “We’ll work to correct executive overreach.” Ernst replied. “We’ll propose ideas that aim to cut wasteful spending and balance the budget — with meaningful reforms, not higher taxes like the president has proposed.” So it’s clear that Obama is in fact using this political rhetoric to attempt to raise our taxes further. It remains to be seen whether Obama will follow through on his promises for so called “net neutrality”, and if he even comes close to providing what is implied, or if it will just result in passing more bills to suppress our civil liberties, raise our taxes, and destroy the middle class, like his previous failed promises ultimately resulted in.
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