The Federal Communications Commission will vote on Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposed Restoring Internet Freedom (RIF) Order which will repeal the Open Internet Order (Net Neutrality Rules) adopted by the FCC in 2015 and then some. You can watch the vote starting at 7:30 a.m. PST / 10:30 am EST here.
It is important to remember that net neutrality is not some new concept that President Obama pulled out of a hat, but rather is a principle dating back to the Pacific Telegraph Act of 1860 that communication providers not discriminate in transmitting content and instead impartially transmit all messages in the order of their reception.
All this changed, however, under President George W. Bush when his FCC Chairman elected to remove broadband services from common carrier obligations under the Communications Act. President Obama’s Net Neutrality regulations simply reasserted the FCC’s authority and restored longstanding rules against discrimination.
Pai’s RIF Order will permit discrimination and even throttling as long as the practice is disclosed. Pai has argued that there is no need for net neutrality rules at the same time he has excluded from the record over 50,000 consumer complaints of net neutrality violations. He also has argued that the rule decreased ISP investment, but this is not supported by the record either.
The vote will proceed despite the fact that:
No Public Hearings
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has asked for a delay, in part, to hold
public hearings before any change is made to these rules, just as Republican and Democratic Commissions have done in the past. We should go directly to the American public to find out what they think about this proposal before any vote is taken to harm net neutrality.
Internet Pioneers Claiming FCC Chair Pai Does Not “Know How the Internet Works”
The leading pioneers of the internet have called on Congress to pressure the FCC to cancel its December 14 vote on the FCC’s proposed RIF Order repealing net neutrality and then some. The pioneers rebuke FCC Chairman Ajit Pai with a blunt statement – “You Don’t Understand How the Internet Works“.
Voters Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality
Eighty-three percent of Americans (and 75 percent of Republicans) support net neutrality.
The RIF Order Record Has Been Corrupted by Fake Comments (Including Russian Accounts) and Should Be Investigated
The public record on the RIF Order includes millions of fake comments that are either unauthorized or made by dead people and 444,938 made from Russian email accounts, yet Chairman Pai has blocked a New York Attorney General investigation into this.
Letters have been sent to Chairman Pai by 118 House Democrats, 39 Senate Democrats and the Attorneys General of 18 states asking for a delay in the vote on Pai’s “radical and reckless plan” (see below). Similarly, the Internet Association, the young trade group representing the major internet companies, urged a delay in the vote on the RIF Order since it “ignores the wishes of tens of millions of Americans who, like us, have voiced their support for the 2015 Open Internet Order.”
Pai dismisses the challenges as a sign of the desperation of net neutrality advocates.
In matters of policy, different people can reach different conclusions in good faith based on the relevant facts. In this case, however, Chairman Pai has shown little interest in the factual record and his decision to move forward on the RIF Order appears to be based solely one fact – they have the votes to do it regardless of the public good.
This is tyranny. As noted previously, this is similar to the colonial lords described by Joseph Conrad a century ago in Heart of Darkness, “their administration was merely a squeeze . . . . They grabbed what they could get for the sake of what was to be got.’