Ajit Pai Whines About California's Net Neutrality Effort, Calls It 'Radical,' 'Illegal'

from the cry-baby dept

Much like the giant ISPs he’s clearly beholden to, Ajit Pai isn’t particularly happy about California’s efforts to pass meaningful net neutrality rules. The state’s shiny new law recently passed the state assembly and senate, and is awaiting the signature of California Governor Jerry Brown. ISPs recently met with Brown in a last-minute bid to get him to veto the bill (a very real possibility) despite widespread, majority public support.

Pai last week took some time to whine about California’s bill at the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a “free market” think tank supported by (shockingly) major ISPs. In his speech, Pai insisted that California’s attempt to protect consumers is somehow both “extreme” and “illegal”:

“Of course, those who demand greater government control of the Internet haven?t given up. Their latest tactic is pushing state governments to regulate the Internet. The most egregious example of this comes from California. Last month, the California state legislature passed a radical, anti-consumer Internet regulation bill that would impose restrictions even more burdensome than those adopted by the FCC in 2015.”

We’ve been over this so many times it hardly warrants a response. But it should be clear that states only took the steps to pass state-level net neutrality laws after Pai made it repeatedly, aggressively clear that his agency could not care less about the welfare of consumers. Killing net neutrality, supporting the elimination of broadband privacy protections, gutting FCC consumer protection authority, thwarting efforts to improve cable box competition, and eroding broadband programs for the poor all highlight this fact. Didn’t want states intervening? Don’t be so aggressively hostile to consumers.

From here, Pai proceeds to again try to claim that what California is up to is somehow “illegal,” which also (surprise) isn’t true:

“The broader problem is that California?s micromanagement poses a risk to the rest of the country. After all, broadband is an interstate service; Internet traffic doesn?t recognize state lines. It follows that only the federal government can set regulatory policy in this area. For if individual states like California regulate the Internet, this will directly impact citizens in other states.

Among other reasons, this is why efforts like California?s are illegal.”

At ISP behest, Pai included language in the FCC’s net-neutrality-killing “restoring internet freedom” order that attempts to pre-empt (read: ban) states from protecting consumers in the wake of FCC apathy. And while Pai keeps trying to claim the FCC has this authority, the courts so far have not seen it that way. In part because when Pai decided to roll back ISP classification of common carriers under the Telecom Act, he also eliminated any potential rights the FCC had to tell states what to do.

That’s a point California Senator Scott Weiner was quick to make in his own statement:

“SB 822 is necessary and legal because Chairman Pai abdicated his responsibility to ensure an open internet. Since the FCC says it no longer has any authority to protect an open internet, it?s also the case that the FCC lacks the legal power to preempt states from protecting their residents and economy. When Verizon was caught throttling the data connection of a wildfire fighting crew in California, Chairman Pai said nothing and did nothing. That silence says far more than his words today.

Like any good disinformation magician, Pai hopes that if he repeats these falsehoods often enough, they’ll magically become true. But it’s hard to tapdance around the fact that the vast, bipartisan majority of Americans hate their cable and phone companies and support these rules for good reason — and by ignoring the will of the public and refusing to rein in monopoly providers with three decades of anti-competitive behavior under their belts, it’s Pai that’s the radical one.

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Comments on “Ajit Pai Whines About California's Net Neutrality Effort, Calls It 'Radical,' 'Illegal'”

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PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“what’s the big picture in all this ?”

The head of the FCC is trying to dismantle consumer protections, clearly at the behest of the same companies he’s meant to be regulating, and pretty much succeeding. Meanwhile, his defenders cannot explain a positive of his actions that aren’t rooted in fiction, if they even try.

Sadly, despite having spent years discussion the ideas behind net neutrality and the events that have led to its destruction in the US, the people involved will not listen.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

And where did tools like Ajit get all of that power?

Tools like you, those advocating for governments to get these powers. Last I checked you have more than enough shit on your plate from EU copyright maximalists than to be concerned with America and its corruption.

Put your house in order first eh?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Tools like you…

Word of advice – this is the absolute fastest way to make everyone stop listening to what you have to say. Being accusatory puts everyone on the defensive, makes you look like a prick, and means you are unlikely to be heard.

In this case, you do not know that this person has advocated for what you think they have – you are making a baseless assumption.

If you have something useful to say, please say it – you need to actually explain what your position is, and why you hold that position, and if you want to have even a snowball’s chance in hell of being listened to, you need to do it without insulting everyone reading or listening.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

“sharp minds discuss ideas, average minds discuss events, small minds focus on individual people”

The above is obviously incorrect. Does posting this makes you feel better about yourself – if so, why?

How is this “measurement” of the mind obtained? Is it IQ tests, we all know how flawed they are right? Is it maybe your personal first impression, those are always right on the money.

“what’s the big picture in all this ?”
This question is ambiguous. I suppose the big picture is your trolling.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:

True; his audience was not consumers, and not producers, but middle-men service providers. This group likes to throw around “anti consumer” as a term that means “hurts our bottom line”.

The entire reason for this tirade though is legal and political: once Pai has it on the public record, he and others can point to it when the court cases eventually go before a judge and argue that California knew what they did was illegal because he said it was.

And in a regular universe, he’d have a point… the interpretation of the law would indicate that since the Internet crosses interstate lines, what California is doing is illegal, and responsibility should fall to the Federal government.

However, Pai has just spent the past year arguing that the body assigned to oversee this, the FCC, should not be responsible. And the telcos had previously won a court case saying that the FTC, who inherited some of the responsibility, didn’t have power over this part.

The result is that the Federal government has actively abdicated responsibility, which means that it now falls squarely on the shoulders of the individual states.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: We'll see

The government can’t do anything right. Anyone who tells you differently is selling something (or working for the government).

An assertion of this nature needs only a single instance to disprove.

Please prove that the government has never, in its entire history, managed to do even on right thing.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: We'll see

I expect nothing. I will still ask. Asking is less for my edification and more to make a point to everyone reading.

The question will either be answered in some form, or not answered.

If answered, the answer will reveal if there’s any valid thought here, and allow for additional discussion if there is. If there is no valid thought, than that will be made explicitly clear.

A lack of answer is itself a form of answer, indicating that there was nothing of substance there, or the person didn’t care enough to pursue.

I have nothing to lose by the asking – so I ask.

Jeremy Lyman (profile) says:

Re: Re: We'll see

I bought a gallon of milk in the grocery store last week, and I actually got a measured gallon of the listed substance for the posted price. It also didn’t make me ill when I consumed it.




I’d wager that the government does thousands of things right in your life, it’s just transparent when it’s running smoothly.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: We'll see

It’s even down to something as basic as the postal service (ignoring congress manufacturing insolvency). I get my mail as surely as the sun rises and sets, yet Fedex, UPS, Ontrac, etc can’t be bothered to actually properly deliver packages.

In my local area, we had a municipal facilities maintenance team that handled all the parks and landscaping, and our city was beautiful. Then some jackass mayor decided to drink the privatization kool-aid, axed that program and contracted it out. Now our walkways are overgrown, our parks poorly maintained, and the city council is gearing up to decide if they want to re-contract or bring back the in-house crew.

There’s plenty that government gets right, they just don’t make good points for talking heads looking to stump for their team.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: The government can't do anything right.

The facade that the anti-government types use hasn’t been maintained in a while since no one calls them out on it. I’m all for tempering the government, but their “all government is bad! Here, let me show you how bad a job we can do!” refrain has gotten old.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

Re: We'll see

Like most government regulation… it usually ends up backfiring in the long run…

Black and white statements like that are always wrong. There’s literally tons and tons of government programs that worked great and didn’t backfire in the long run. Here’s just a short list of what things I can think of off the top of my head that you can thank the government for, that you can’t say anything bad about how they backfired.

  • Having safe food that’s not laced with poison or other things that will make you sick.
  • Knowing that up to $250,000 worth of assets will the safe in the event of your bank going under thanks to FDIC insurance required by law.
  • Not having rivers and oceans that literally catch on fire because of how polluted they are with harmful chemicals/etc. that businesses dumped in them (yes, this really happened in the US).
  • Having much cleaner air because of the same environmental regulations, and not having air so polluted that people have to wear smog masks just to go outside, and some wealthy literally go on ‘clean air vacations’ where it’s less polluted (this is the reality today in China in a number of cities thanks to lack of regulation).
  • Knowing that any car you purchase has passed rigorous government safety inspections when it was designed, and any used car you purchased was inspected as well to make sure that it’s still safe to drive. Such regulations are responsible for a consistent decline in automobile accidents (which has long been the #1 killer in America).
PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: We'll see

Slightly oversimplified, but this about sums a lot of it up:

Republicans 40+ years ago: Rivers are literally on fire, we need to set up the EPA to regulate things, since businesses obviously put profit above even the most basic welfare of human beings

…40+ years without rivers on fire…

Republicans today: government never does anything so we need to remove the EPA and let people make profit!

Iggy says:

Re: Re: Re: We'll see

It’s amazing how 40+ years of things functioning smoothly can change people attitudes

The generation of the 1880’s to 1930’s was fed up with monopoly control of every industry, long hours for low pay, and having to live in mining towns. They went on strikes and battled security firms. They fought for antitrust law, minimum wages, and income taxes.

Their grandchildren who lived in the 1950’s to 1970’s enjoyed stable jobs with a 40 hour work week, affordable education, and affordable health care.

There was just one problem: Too much government. The corporations and the wealthy paid too much taxes. Mega mergers, FDA approvals, and waste dumping were hampered by “beauracratic red tape”. So the laws once again changed.

Now this generation is busy judging their grandchildren for not moving out of their parents homes sooner, being “entitled” and wanting “handouts”. Not like them in the good old days!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re: We'll see

Of note in your link, is that it clarifies that Motor vehicle accidents on their own are not a rankable death item, but if they were would be #13. Comparative numbers seem to be a little harder to track down, but what I found in the below link for data from 1982 (just before states started passing seatbelt use laws) shows that motor vehicle accidents contributed to a significant portion of deaths.


Not the #1 point the OP made, but still proves his overall point a bit.

nasch (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:2 We'll see

His point that safety regulations have reduced death tolls in various areas is spot on and well put. I was just pointing out that car accidents are nowhere near the number 1 killer in the US, and I would guess never have been. Car accidents are somewhere around 35-40,000 per year, and heart disease is over 600,000. Though opioid overdoses are something like 60-70,000 and drug overdose isn’t on that list at all. I’m not sure what that says about the data.

Anonymous Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

He know what the truth is, it just won't fit in his mouth.

"Of course, those who demand greater government control of the Internet haven’t given up."

Pai’s disingenuous characterization is not very subtle. In fact the demand is not for government control of the Internet, but for control over internet providers, no matter what flavor.

Control to keep the expected dumb pipes dumb. Control to encourage actual competition to keep quality high and prices low.

Control to keep those offering service honest in their advertising and billing practices.

Control to separate content from access.

Control to keep corporations from overly influencing Government in their favor rather than the owners of this country, the people.

Anonymous Coward says:

State lines

After all, broadband is an interstate service; Internet traffic doesn’t recognize state lines. It follows that only the federal government can set regulatory policy in this area.

How does that follow? Broadband is an international service; Internet traffic doesn’t recognize nation-state lines. By Pai’s logic, it follows that only an international body (the ITU) can set regulatory policy in this area.

Seegras (profile) says:

capitalism is not sustainable

The trouble is, as we’re seeing right now, is that rampaging capitalism tends to destroy free markets. By either cornering them, or by influencing lawmakers (or in this case, the government in the form of the FCC chairman) to keep out or destroy competition.

So basically, a free market is not something that just magically happens. It’s something that needs curation.

And the move to gut “net neutrality” is of course and anti-free-market one; there are some telcos that will profit, and all the content-providers and the public will loose.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: capitalism is not sustainable

Oh look another clueless idiot. The internet if full of fucking dictionaries, go and look some fucking words up.

Capitalism is simple.. the idea that “individuals” instead of “government” owns the means of production and trade.

The opposite is communism, you are advocating communism which has murdered and killed far fucking more people than ANY version of capitalism.

You are so fucking clueless you are not even smart enough to be corrected. You are going to continue to believe your filthy historically disproved garbage until millions are dying again.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Communism...murdered?

What implementation of communism would that be in which millions were murdered by it? You can’t possibly be thinking of the USSR in which the communist system was never fully implemented, whereas Stalin’s purges were implemented through sheer despotism.

In the meantime western capitalism is looking more and more like classical feudalism where some people are allowed to disregard the rights of others for sake of profit. We see this currently private prisons and private security.

Then there’s there are situations in which the well being of labor is given insufficient consideration (which describes most factories in the world).

And then there’s those situations in which property rights are regarded to overrule rights to live, allowing for plagues, famines and disasters to persist while there were material resources to counter them.

The death-count of capitalism is not measured in death camps, though we have a few of those as well.

Socialism and capitalism are starting points for making a functional economy. Both of them feature challenges in and of themselves that will, left unchecked, bring them to failure and yield body counts.

Chip says:


I “told” you that This would “happen”! Idiots! Sycophants! MINIONS!

I “told” you that when there were REGULATIONS, that “meant” that SOMEDAY there would be Elections, and other “people” might get “elected” and Undo the REGULATIONS. You did not Praise me for my BRILLIANCE in “understanding that Elections “exist” and sometimes different Parties get Elected, which doesn’t matter anyway because oth Parties are the “same”, as you would know if you were Interested in Truth and in “history” such as GEORGE WASHINGTON’S FAREWELL ADDRESS, which is one of Many historical Things that I have read because I am very “very” Smart.

The “regulations” in California are BAD, and the FCC’s repeal of the REGULATIONS from Wheeler is also BAD, and Wheeler’s regulations were “also” BAD. That is OBVIOUS to anyone who is very VERY “smart” like “me”. Don’t you Sycophantic “idiots” Get it? Someay in California there will be an ELECTION. And different PEOPLE might get “elected”. And those different “people” might repeal this “law”. You’re all so Stupid! Stupid! for not recognizing my obvious GENIOUS in understanding that sometimes different “people” get Elected to things. You did not learn about History like I learne about History, at Smilin’ Jim’s Unaccredited Forth Grade Academy.

Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deseves!

Chip says:


Sycophantic “diots” always “thinK” that I am Crazy bgecause they are far too Stupid to understand my Obvious “genious”, and Also because I enjoy eating Paint “chips”. Only “leaded” Paint chips! None of your fancy PC “garbage” LEAD-FREE PAINT CHIPS. ALL Government “regulations” are Bad!such at the government “regulation” that Paint should not contain “lead”! If you werent a bunch of Sycophantic Iots, and also “knobs” and MINIONS, you would “get” the TRUTH that the FREE “market” should Decide whether paint should have “lead” in It, and “also” that paint Chips are Delicious.

I only “support” ANTI_MONOOLY “regulations”. PAINT companies are not “monopolies”, and THERFORE should not be “regulated” on things like whether Paint should coain “Lead”.

ISPs are Monopolies, but Only “because” of Governemtn “regulations”. They are not Natural Monopolies. I definately know what a Natrual Monopoly is.

Every Nation eats the Paint chips it Deserves!

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Ajit Pai's screams of agony are music to my ears.

Like a temperamental wicked fairy queen in a distant storm-swept castle, so long as he stomps and frets and rants we know that his nefarious plans have not yet succeeded.

It’s tense here in California, given that Governor Brown hasn’t actually signed the net neutrality bill after weeks. One would think that he’d get on with it if he was going to.

ECA (profile) says:

And where is the nation of truth?

For all the claims on both sides, and No logic in the middle..
Why cant we Sue Gov. personnel for TRUTH??
Lets attach Pai to a Lie detector, and add a few drugs, and see what Comes out of his mouth.

they demand it of the Poor in this country, why not the rich?
I REALLY would like to have him under investigation..and see WHO is paying him so much money that his lips move to anyone with money.. Or is that our WHOLE government??

I really wonder sometimes, HOW much we pay our Government sponsors.. and all the FREE benefits they VOTED FOR THEMSELVES, and still, they are corrupted by a few bucks.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: And where is the nation of truth?

I think we’ve well established that hypocrisy is the norm in the US, if not in human society in general, that there is no equal treatment, and that the proles are denied rights as a matter of course. Their gripes are legit while ours are whining by snowflakes. and if the power dynamic were ever to reverse, we couldn’t be trusted not to privilege ourselves over them.

It’s been this way for generations. I suspect we’ve only imagined true equality under law as an ideal.

Ours is a more perfect union in contrast to some very, very imperfect unions that preceded it. The bar was really low.

Andy Sanderson says:

Net neutrality has problems

Net neutrality says that no company that owns communication systems can provide premium services, more rapid service, or more reliable data transmission to any person or company than to any other person or company. It is essentially a socialist regulation that takes control away from the actual equipment owners and forces the owners to provide the same low quality or slow data rate to everyone. The companies like CenturyLink or Comcast or AT&T must give up the ability to provide higher quality service to any customer.
Basically, the government commandeers the architecture and operation of all network equipment. This is as if the government told all airlines that, “You need to have 2 stops between every flight that is between 100 miles and 1000 miles long. You need to have 3 stops on any airline route that is between 1000 and 2000 miles long. You need to have 4 stops on any airline route that is between 2000 and 3000 miles long. And no flights beyond 3000 miles can be sold. There will be NO person allowed to have a nonstop flight! There will be no first class seating. There will be no seat choices. And each passenger can only transport one 20 lb bag per flight.” Excessive regulation is a source of great inefficiency. It says the government can always plan networks or airline flights better than the owners of the transport equipment (the transceivers, the fiber, the racks, the software, etc). Net neutrality should actually be called (GMEITN) Government Microregulation and Elimination of Innovation for Telecom Networks. I don’t support GMEITN or Net Neutrality.

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