“I’m on the FCC. Please stop us from killing net neutrality.” This is the title of a Los Angeles Times article written by Ms. Jessica Rosenworcel, one of the five members of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC).
Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images
By now, you surely know the overall details of the move by the current administration to change the Internet as we know it. Through a plan authored by FCC Chairperson Ajit Pai, net neutrality is about to be abolished. (If you want a full explanation of the issues and the new plan, read the previously posted articles on this blog (May and July) and the links they present. All previous posts presented the opinion of this and other blogs as well as various news outlets. Now consider the perspective of a voting members of the FCC—Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.
In a strongly worded condemnation of the plan, the process and motivation of Mr. Pai and his Republican FCC commissioners, Ms. Rosenworcel believes it is not right that un-elected officials should have such a profound effect on our Internet use. And yet, as of the December 14th vote, the plan which Ms. Rosenworcel describes as “a plan to gut the foundation of openness”, might do just that.
“It’s a lousy idea. And it deserves a heated response from the millions of Americans
who work and create online every day…
Americans should prevent the plan from becoming the law of the land.”
Here is a link to the FCC’s so-called “fact sheet” describing Mr. Pai’s plan (a 21 page PDF). Do not be fooled by the title “Restoring Internet Freedom”. The freedom mentioned in that document is freedom for the telecommunications companies to do as they please—despite our objections. By contrast, here is a link to a fact sheet (PDF) explaining the implications of the plan. As you read these two “fact sheets”, you will notice a decidedly different tone between them. While the “implications” PDF is written in simple, direct language, the summary of the Pai-plan obfuscates the implications of the stated proposals (i.e., read carefully!). A lie can be told many ways—but it is still a lie. (Note that there are many hidden shadows behind the words of the Pai proposals. Some of them are quite complicated, such as the transfer of regulatory control over telecoms from the FCC to required litigation by Federal Trade Commission (FTC). While most of these subtleties are beyond the scope of this post, think of this FCC-FTC change like this. “Let’s NOT close the barn door. Let’s wait until the animals—telecoms—escape. Then we will run after them”).
A Plan Without Merit
Photo: Associated Press
Last summer, Congress challenged the FCC chairperson, suggesting that his rationale for repealing net neutrality was not good enough. Still, Mr. Pai admitted that he did not consider public opinion enough to dissuade him from his plan to kill net neutrality. What would convince him? In his own words, “economic analysis that shows credibly that there’s infrastructure investment that has increased dramatically”. Huh? From common citizens? Apparently, the opinion of common citizens is not important. Perhaps that is why in July, American Oversight, a watchdog organization, sued the FCC for withholding information from the public (a violation of Freedom of Information Act – FOIA). Apparently there is a plan afoot regarding the Internet, a plan to use it to further business interests. We are being cut out of the loop.
As always, decide for yourself. If you see the actions of the FCC—which from all accounts defies the will of the general public—as “undemocratic” abuse of power, and if such actions anger you, do something about it! As Commissioner Rosenworcel suggests “make a ruckus!”
Who decides the fate of the American Internet?
- Ajit Pai, Chairman. Pai@fcc.gov.
- Jessica Rosenworcel, Commissioner. Jessica.Rosenworcel@fcc.gov.
- Brendan Carr, Commissioner. Brendan.Carr@fcc.gov.
- Mignon Clyburn, Commissioner. Mignon.Clyburn@fcc.gov.
- Michael O’Rielly, Commissioner. Mike.O’Rielly@fcc.gov.
What’s wrong with this picture? Surely the above image cannot be right, can it? To any reasonable person, a decision as seemingly momentous as the repeal of net neutrality should fall to us, We, the People, American citizens. In fact, while Mr. Pai’s plan presents a crushing blow to freedom in America, consider the structure of the situation. Why should such a small group of un-elected people who presumable bring significant partisan bias to the table, be in a position to do so much damage on such a scale? The structure of the entire situation—perhaps one not foreign to the function of the United States government—presents questions we all should ponder.