Rep. Barton Demands The FCC Filter ISIS From The Internet

from the act-first-think-later dept

There’s been a universe of responses to the recent tragedy in Paris, and unfortunately the lion’s share of them are incomprehensibly stupid, adding a compounded feeling of inevitable dread to the already heart-breaking ordeal. From punishing all Syrian refugees for the attacks to blaming Edward Snowden and encryption, there’s once again far more knee-jerk inanity being generated than reasoned commentary. Joining the fray this week was Rep. Joe Barton, who simply can’t seem to understand why we can’t start filtering this whole “terrorism” part of the Internet.

Barton was speaking this week at yet another House hearing designed primarily to shame the FCC for standing up to ISPs on net neutrality. These show pony hearings have been going on for much of the year now, and their overarching end goal is to strip the agency’s authority and funding under the auspices of reform. Ironic then, that Barton took some time out to urge the FCC to start regulating Internet speech:

“They are really trying to use the Internet and all the social media to intimidate and beat us psychologically,” Barton said during a House committee hearing Tuesday. “Isn’t there something we can do to shut those Internet sites down?”

Well one, we’re beating ourselves psychologically by responding to tragedy by being aggressively stupid. Two, as we’ve noted time and time and time again, Internet filters just don’t work. They’re easily bypassed by even the most mentally-stunted toddler, and they open the door to atrocious savaging of free speech rights. When they do “work,” they generally result in the filtering of legitimate content. Barton seems to realize this in his statements, but plows forward undeterred:

“Barton conceded that censoring the Web sites might be difficult — “I know they pop up like weeds” — but plowed ahead with his proposal, suggesting that the Federal Communications Commission attempt to shut down the sites. “They’re using the Internet in an extremely offensive and inappropriate way against us,” he continued.

But the real problem isn’t the fact that when you censor content it pops right back up it’s the censoring of content in the first place. You’d think that an elected official would be at least marginally familiar with the First Amendment that says, you know, that the government can’t censor speech. And yet here he is directly advocating outright internet censorship.

Again it’s important to understand that Barton, who creatively dubs net neutrality “net nonsense,” was attending a hearing with the unspoken intent of gutting FCC authority. And, ironically, it was the FCC that had to remind Barton that regulating website and social media is too far outside of its wheelhouse. Still, it’s amusing that Barton believes imposing consumer protections to defend free speech is a horrible, unchecked abuse of the FCC’s authority, but dramatically expanding FCC power to restrict free speech somehow makes perfect sense.

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Comments on “Rep. Barton Demands The FCC Filter ISIS From The Internet”

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That One Guy (profile) says:


I think it would be downright hilarious if they took him seriously, and called his stupidity/bluff. Ask him flat out if he’s willing to support sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube being blocked by the FCC as ‘providing aid to terrorists’ or whatever term he cares to use.

Watch him squirm as suddenly he has to either back down or double down on the idiocy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

But Saudi Arabia are good friends with the US. The USA are selling weapons to them and buying their oil.
So are you saying that if IS would sell their oil to the US instead of countries around them then they could be friends with the USA too?

I mean it can’t be the beheading or the religious fanaticism because SA isn’t much better than IS in that regard. Maybe it’s the whippings that make SA better or that you can pay people to be whipped for you, capitalism and all but who knows.

Anonymous Coward says:

I don’t support ISIS or terrorism, but I do support freedom of speech.

Freedom of speech isn’t the freedom to not be offended or insulted. Even ‘on a computer’ as some people like to think makes things different.

When you start to censor some things, you open the door to censoring other things. Today it’s terrorism. Tomorrow it’s dissent. It spits in the face of the Constitution.

But seriously fuck ISIS.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

Why blame cognitive dissonance when stupidity is a perfectly good explanation?

Thank goodness we still have freedom of speech, because that allows grandstanding fools to be seen as to what they are. Censorship hides stupidity and foolishness just as much as it hides whatever fools and idiots don’t want to see.

How does someone like this make it past the candidate nomination meeting? Where’d all the ruck making journalists go? Why aren’t this guy’s antics front page news exposes?

Thanks Karl, Mike, TD and all the rest. Sometimes I wonder if we’re the only sane people left on the planet.

Peter (profile) says:

If the FCC removes ISIS from virtual life and the DOD from the real world, we can finally live in peace and forget about terrorism.

If Barton could pass a law to that effect and get FCC and DOD to finish the job in the next couple of weeks, he’ll top the candidate list for the next president of the US of A.

PS: If the DOD did its job in the real world, we need not worry about the virtual part at all.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

. Sadly the Desert Storm campaign was the last time the US got solid political guidance.

Would that be the same desert storm campaign where we attacked a secular tyrant on behalf of theocratic states that have subsequently funded the kind of activity that has led to the recent attacks.

No – the last time there was solid poitical guidance was probably WW2.

Anonymous Coward says:

I seriously doubt that half of congress

could pass a grade school Internet skills test.

Watching it is a meal of gallows humor and nausea. It’s funny, until you remember that the army answers to these guys.

When I see this kind of thing, I think of the Little Rock Nine. The new bigotry is a technological one, but it is the same old song and dance. I keep wondering when the state guard is going to be called out to start jacking people up for being technically competent.

Guys like Barton, are just the current version of Orval Faubus.

Overturn Citizens United. Reinstate Glass Steagall. Bust Trusts. That is the only way we are moving forward.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: I seriously doubt that half of congress

The army (and the rest of the military) answers to the President, not Congress.

I guess it depends. Congress has the sole authority to declare war, after all. I don’t think there’s ever been an instance where Congress declared war and then the President refused to mobilize the troops needed to fight it, so it’s not exactly clear what would happen in that case. I suspect Congress would attempt to impeach the President, but I have no idea if that would be considered sufficient grounds to do so.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 I seriously doubt that half of congress

…do you have some kind of limit on how many words you’re capable of reading in one day? I mean, I expect this kind of stupidity in most comments sections, but techdirt generally has a higher standard of people, you know, people that care capable of reading more than one sentence.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“They are really trying to use the Internet and all the social media to intimidate and beat us psychologically,” Barton said during a House committee hearing Tuesday. “Isn’t there something we can do….”


Don’t watch Fox or CNN.
Don’t read newspapers.
Don’t listen to talk radio.
While leaving all electronic devices inside Faraday cages at home, go for a several months long walk while thinking about how stupid your suggestions really are.
Stop taking money from those PAC’s.
Find a new job, not in politics and without responsibility.
Get a lobotomy.
Practice cranial electronic stimulus with antiquated tools and no safeties.
Serve your constituency rather than your paymasters.
Get a life.

…oh, you mean the FCC? Well, no.

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Do we want to remove ISIS from the internet, or do we want to expand internet surveillance capabilities in order to better track ISIS on the internet?

Yes. Welcome to the magic of big (as in, lack of checks and balances and supervision) gov’t.

After all, the FBI’s busy mfgr-ing terrorist plots, the CIA’s protecting Afghan heroin growers (fueling Russia’s heroin epidemic, you know) and fomenting coups in eastern Europe, and the NSA’s busy shredding the 4th amendment. Surely we’ve got enough people sitting around looking for things to do, why not shred the 1st amendment too while we’re at it? That stupid constitution is gettin’ on 2.5 centuries old, ffs. Does anybody really still need or want it? It doesn’t seem so.

Chronno S. Trigger (profile) says:

Re: Re:

1) Isn’t this a bit off topic?

2) You do realize that the people who did 9/11 came into America legally, right? Blaming the refugees for Paris would be like blaming the hammer if it was used as a weapon. The refugee crisis was just a tool, an excuse that the terrorists used. If there weren’t refugees, those terrorists would have just had fake passports. Or, hell, real ones. It’s not like they were worried about getting back home.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

I don’t think it is stupid to look at the refugees coming out of Syria.

Your implication that we don’t “look at” refugees coming out of Syria (or anywhere) is incorrect; they go through an extensive screening process.

If you can’t know that the refugees would be safe to bring into this country, why the hell would you?

We can’t ever know that anything we might do would be safe. The question is, what is the risk compared to the benefit?

John85851 (profile) says:

Go ahead

Let’s go ahead with his proposal and see where it leads:
1) All sites that talk about ISIS are blocked.
2) ISIS attacks.
3) Government officials (like him) then complain that the attack could have been prevented if only the intelligence agencies found “chatter” about it on some website.

In other words, this proposal is just as dumb as telling YouTube to take down videos of criminals filming themselves, even though police agencies use the videos to track down the criminals!

But, hey, something has to be done!

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Don’t let them into the US? No Risk.

Let them in? Some risk.

Seems pretty clear to me.

You forgot the other side of the equation.

Don’t let them in? No benefit.

Let them in? Some benefit.

Not so clear.

Oh, and the Speaker of the House is included in a Marines Chain of Command.

Couldn’t find any information on that, do you have a reference?

tqk (profile) says:

Re: Re:

If you don’t think Europe has a really big immigration problem, then you are not paying attention.

So I’ve heard. At the same time, a lot of people are saying politicians are blowing that problem way up (fear-mongering) out of all proportion to its actual significance to the rest of the population.

Who’s right? I tend to discount the opinions of self-serving fear-mongers. You?

Anonymous Coward says:

Not in Chain of Command

You see the speaker of the house anywhere in this Chain of Command?

Drill Instructor (DI)
Company Commander
Battalion Commander
Regimental Commander
Division Commander
(Chief of Naval Education and Training)
Commandant of the Marine Corps
Secretary of the Navy
Secretary of Defense
Commander-in-Chief (President of the United States)

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