Ajit Pai Whines About The Numerous State-Level Net Neutrality Laws He Just Helped Create
from the you-built-this dept
A common misconception is that the FCC’s net neutrality rule just killed net neutrality. In reality, the “Restoring Internet Freedom” order eliminated most of the FCC’s authority over broadband providers, shoveling remaining oversight to an FTC that lacks either the attention span or authority to police giants like AT&T and Comcast. The order also attempted to ban states from protecting consumers in the wake of the FCC’s apathy to industry issues. This accountability vacuum was, if you’re a slow learner, the entire point of the plan.
But a recent court ruling was a mixed outcome for the FCC. While the court supported much of the FCC’s repeal (despite the obvious fraud that occurred), it ruled the FCC lacked the authority to block states from protecting consumers. As a result, while federal net neutrality protections are gone, a flood of states are now passing their own laws. And despite creating this problem, Ajit Pai and the broadband industry aren’t happy about it, angry that their dream of zero meaningful oversight for one of the most broken industries in America wasn’t fully realized.
In a softball interview this week at the WSJ Tech Live conference, Pai took some time to whine about the fact that the broadband industry now has to deal with a multitude of often discordant state laws instead of a singular cohesive rule set. At no point, please notice, does Pai even remotely acknowledge that he himself caused the problem by rushing to dismantle federal rules using bunk data:
“When you’re talking about the choice for a venture capitalist or an entrepreneur to set up shop in the United States where they have to get permission from the federal government or from the state of California, San Francisco, or some other jurisdiction, or whether they should set up shop in country B where there’s a uniform, well-established set of regulations that are consistent, I worry that the proposition value for country B will become stronger over time.”
Again, Pai created this problem. Telecom industry lobbyists, using bogus data and fake people, pushed to repeal hugely popular federal net neutrality rules. Those rules, while portrayed as “draconian” by Pai and industry, were among the most modest in the world (failing to even address things like usage caps and “zero rating“). Pai and the industry he’s pandering to created this problem by killing off modest federal rules. Now they’re complaining about the fact that there’s no cohesive federal framework in place. The same thing occurred with FCC privacy rules. It’s dumbfounding.
And again, the FCC’s (read: industry’s) goal has been to kill most state and federal oversight of telecom under the false pretense that this will somehow, magically, spur Comcast Corporation to begin caring about customer service and deploying broadband to lower ROI regions of the country. Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who has yet to stand up to industry on a single issue of substance, tries so very hard to dress this up as some kind of sophisticated ethos:
“He argued that “while that federalist system has served us very well” up to this point in our nation’s history, it’s time for Congress to consider “whether or not we can still maintain a multilayer regulatory system.” He said allowing states and local governments to pass their own laws regulating internet services, which inherently cross state lines, creates market uncertainty.”
The market uncertainty was created by regulatory capture and pandering to industry. Hugely popular, modest and cohesive federal guidelines were in place. Corruption and blind fealty to industry eliminated them, creating a chaotic state by state approach to market oversight. There’s only really one place the blame for the resulting chaos belongs.