FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai Just Loves Net Neutrality Rulemaking Transparency, Except When It's His Turn To Be Transparent
from the walk-the-talk dept
You might recall that to try and thwart the agency’s new net neutrality rules, former Verizon lawyer turned FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai launched a last-minute, facts-optional war on net neutrality and neutrality supporters like Netflix. Most of his arguments were nonsensically awful, like claiming that having real neutrality rules would somehow inspire North Korea and Iran to censor the internet, or that Netflix’s fairly ordinary use of a CDN suggested it was somehow a hypocrite on the idea of net neutrality and was trying to destroy the internet.
But Pai’s biggest complaint about the net neutrality rules was that the FCC wasn’t being transparent enough, despite countless years of conversation and fully documented public input. Pai repeatedly and often proclaimed that the entire process wasn’t transparent, even going so far as to hint that the White House’s public Title II support was somehow part of a secret cabal with the FCC, even though as we noted at the time no rules were broken by the White House’s entirely ordinary public statement of support for Title II.
If you know telecom company lawyers, you probably were keyed in early on that Pai and his staff’s breathless love of transparency was a bit of a political show pony designed to rile up the folks that believe net neutrality is some vile, secret plot by government to ruin the internet. You also likely realized early on that when the shoe was on the other foot, this love of transparency would probably magically disappear.
And that didn’t apparently take long. The House has been conducting an endless stream of political show pony hearings and “investigations” into the FCC’s behavior on the net neutrality front under the noble pretense of reform, when the real goal is to punish the agency for daring to stand up to ISP campaign contributors. As the House digs through documents they hope will prove that net neutrality is an unholy, big government cabal (and not, as most realize, a genuine and remarkable grass roots movement) Pai apparently refused to provide documents to the FCC’s own lawyer:
“Republican FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai is refusing to make his office?s documents available to the FCC?s Office of General Counsel as part of a House investigation into the agency?s net neutrality decision. Pai has instead promised to provide documents directly to the House Oversight Committee ? though a panel spokeswoman said no documents have yet been provided.”
Get it? Transparency is really, really important unless it doesn’t coincide with partisan patty cake efforts to shame the FCC for finally doing its job and standing up for consumers. Of course in a few years when Pai’s back at a telecom company or comfortably ensconced at one of their think tanks, this will all be forgotten, but if the rules get overturned in court by Pai’s friends at Verizon, consumers and small businesses will be the ones left holding the detritus from Pai’s noble, totally transparent time at the Commission.