Trump’s FCC Chair Just Threatened To Abolish The Open Internet, Resistance Soars
This is … bad. Very bad. On Wednesday, new FCC chairman Ajit Pai unveiled plans to abolish the free and open internet by rolling back the principle of net neutrality and consumer protections, removing internet-service providers from classification as utility providers.
“Net neutrality”, a rule put in place by the Obama administration to protect the internet, is the principle that all of the traffic on the network should be treated with equal priority.
Through his speech, Pai vowed to cut rules to enforce an open internet where all traffic is treated equally by rolling back the Title II classification of broadband, which designated ISPs as utility providers, and to reclassify them as Title I information providers. He also proposed jettisoning the FCC’s broad “internet conduct standard.”
But the Trump’s plan to overturn open internet protections face “a tsunami of resistance from a grassroots movement of Americans from every walk of life,” senators and activists warned on Wednesday.
In a press conference before Pai’s speech, senators Edward Markey, Richard Blumenthal and Ron Wyden were joined by internet activists to warn Pai and Trump that efforts to undermine the rules would be met with stiff resistance.
In 2015, after a heated public battle, activists pushed the FCC to establish tough new rules that bar internet service providers from creating fast lanes, or “throttling” online traffic in a way that could allow them to pick online winners and losers and stifle competition.
Senator Markey said: “Just two years ago the Federal Communications Commission listened to four million voices and adopted strong net neutrality rules. Those rules ensured that the internet would remain a level playing field for everyone, making the internet America’s foundation for information and commerce and communications. We are on the right side of history and I’m ready for this fight to come.”
Craig Aaron, president of consumer-advocacy group Free Press, said the Trump’s administration was trying to erase “one of the most important public interest victories ever.” Such a move would leave consumers “at the mercy of the phone and cable companies, some of the most hated companies in America.”
Aaron told The Guardian that Pai was living in a “fantasy world, where all will be fine if internet companies double-pinky swear not to interfere with online pathways and portals – despite their long history of doing just that.”
The previous battle over net neutrality led to a massive outpouring of public support. Activists organised protest camps outside and bombarded Congress with calls. Comedian John Oliver’s dissection of the debate has now been viewed more than 12m times on YouTube.
Watch the video below:
Evan Greer, the campaign director for Fight For the Future, said that many supporters of net neutrality were also Trump supporters. “Donald Trump has completely misjudged his base on this issue,” Greer said. “People from across the political spectrum want to keep the internet free from throttling and censorship. They don’t want their cable companies, who they already pay too much money to connect them to the internet, to decide what they can do and see online.”