FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has a net neutrality problem—and he’s not staying silent about it.
Commissioner Pai is leading the charge against Democratic Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plans to regulate the way we sell and receive internet access. The problem isn’t just with the contents of the plan—which are sweeping and expand government power in communications regulation—but with how careful the FCC has been to not release any details to the public before the Commission’s February 26 vote.
“I’ve not been shy about expressing my views on a great many subjects,” Pai said in an interview in his office at FCC headquarters in Washington. “I’ve done my best to make sure that my views are expressed, whether through the spoken word or the pen.”
Conspicuously visible on Pai’s desk is Wheeler’s net neutrality proposal, which has been circulated among the FCC commissioners but not released to the public. Pai has repeatedly wielded the bulky document as a prop in media appearances to condemn Wheeler’s plan and to needle the chairman for refusing to publish the text ahead of the FCC’s vote.
The scandal is the theme of a great new video from Project Internet Freedom:
Pai’s concerns about the FCC’s secrecy aren’t misplaced. A new poll by the Progressive Policy Institute shows that not only do Americans want to see the net neutrality plan before it is implemented, they’re also not convinced that it will bring helpful change:
The nationwide survey, by Hart Research Associates, was conducted from February 13 to 15, 2015 on behalf of PPI. The survey was conducted by telephone (both landline and cell phone) among a cross section of 800 adults age 18 and over. It found:
Three out of four (75%) Americans are unfamiliar with the term “net neutrality” and what it refers to.
73% of Americans want greater disclosure of the details of the FCC’s proposal to regulate the Internet.
Nearly eight in ten (79%) Americans favor public disclosure of the exact wording and details of the FCC’s proposal to regulate the Internet before the FCC votes on it.
Only one in three Americans thinks that regulating the Internet like telephone service will be helpful.
“That will fuck everything up,” said the voluble Cuban in remarks Wednesday at the Code/Media conference at The Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, Calif… “Net neutrality is just a demonization of big companies,” Cuban said.
Cuban, who parlayed his windfall from the 1999 sale of Broadcast.com to Yahoo into an array of ventures that include the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, AXS TV and the Landmark Theatres chain, said there is no evidence (beyond an isolated 2008 case) that Internet providers have throttled access to certain websites.
The executive dismissed Netflix’s claims that subscribers endured slower speeds until the company paid Comcast for direct access to the Internet provider’s broadband network. Comcast claimed that Netflix had used an inferior middleman to deliver video to Comcast’s network.
“It’s a battle between two fairly large companies,” Cuban said. “[They] worked it out, just like happens in business every day.”
Cuban said he does not want a group of political appointees at the FCC regulating the Internet.
“Having them overseeing the Internet scares the shit out of me,” Cuban said.
This is the problem with activist-driven administrative action. Right now, we have an agency that is ready to act on behalf of a public that isn’t even sure that change is necessary. The wonks have been arguing about this issue for years; both sides have thrown more propaganda against the barn door than was reasonable or necessary, and the American people still aren’t ready to green light more regulation.
The only question that remains is, is Wheeler ready to ignore all this to give the pro-NN activists what they want?DONATE
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