FCC's Ajit Pai: By Making Sure The Internet Is Open And Free... It Will Inspire North Korea And Cuba To Censor

from the say-what-now? dept

I should note, upfront, that I've had the chance to meet FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai a couple of times, and always found him to be interesting and knowledgeable, as well as engaged on important issues. Yet, for whatever reason, when it comes to net neutrality issues, the former Verizon lawyer (clue number 1) seems to have gone off the deep end, tossed all logic and intellectual honesty out the window, in an effort to just lash out angrily with whatever he's got. We've talked about his incoherent attack on Netflix and his sudden and newfound love of transparency (never noted before...).

But his latest move just strips whatever credibility he may have had on the subject completely away. He's insisting that the FCC's new net neutrality rules (which he opposes) will inspire North Korea and Iran to further control and censor the internet (which they already control and heavily censor). And he's not arguing this in a "they hate us for our freedom" way, but he's actively lying and claiming that this move -- a move to guarantee openness and not censorship online -- will give the North Korean and Iranian governments the political cover to censor the internet. Let's be frank, Pai's statements are complete nonsense.
“If in the United States we adopt regulations that assert more government control over how the Internet operates ... it becomes a lot more difficult for us to go on the international stage and tell governments: ‘Look, we want you to keep your hands off the internet,’” he said.

“Even if the ideas aren’t completely identical, you can appreciate the optical difficult in trying to make that case," he added.
Except, uh, the "rules" being described are ones that just say "the internet needs to be open and free from interference, censorship and discrimination." I don't see how anyone could legitimately claim this will somehow undermine a message of internet freedom. But watch Pai work himself up into a moral panic over a complete misrepresentation of what's happening:
In the background, meanwhile, countries such as North Korea and Cuba are trying to exact more control of the Internet through an arm of the United Nations called the International Telecommunication Union, he warned.

Nations such as Turkey and China are also enacting new controls in their own countries and “testing the waters to see how much they can get away with,” Pai said.

“I think the U.S.-based system of Internet governance has served us very well and I hope we don’t do anything to jeopardize that in the near future.”
He's right that there are questions about internet governance -- and we've covered the various discussions on that for a while now. But the FCC's rules to protect an open and free internet is not about "internet governance" or Cuba or North Korea censoring the internet at all. It takes a special kind of desperation to try to argue that preserving an open and free internet is actually about telling oppressive authoritarian regimes that it's okay to censor and lock down the internet. No one believes it at all, and it just takes away whatever credibility Pai may have had on the subject.

Filed Under: ajit pai, china, cuba, fcc, internet governance, net neutrality, north korea, title ii


Reader Comments

The First Word

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. icon
    Tazinator (profile), 13 Feb 2015 @ 1:51am

    Can see what his attempted argument is but it fails badly...

    I can see what he is trying to say, that essentially if we put the companies that control net access under US government regulation that the oppressive countries which...already do censor their connections to their citizens will then have the ability to claim "We're doing this because the US Govt controls the Internet!"

    Problem 1:

    He is throwing out how the Internet actually functions. If you disconnected the US from the rest of the net (which sadly some a-holes in DC attempted to do with SOPA and CISPA effectively creating a "Great Firewall" to control piracy...), the Internet would still exist and function albeit smaller and with a lot less websites. The whole concept and design of it negates any one country from controlling the entirety of it.

    Problem 2:

    On the front of country dictators having more excuses with Title II classification; that would be hypocritical for the simple fact that the ISPs of those nations are STATE OWNED AND REGULATED themselves. How can one say that "well the Internet is now in control of a government so we need to censor it" when their own governments control citizen access already.

    Problem 3:

    Oppressive countries already use the excuse that the US influences the net and thats why they regulate the access of their populations. Title II is going to do nothing to solidify that claim because ISPs are already government regulated (...though very lightly and with much favoritism thanks to the best lobbyists money can buy and the nonsense "Information Service" classification...).


    All in all though his whole rambling nonsense ignores the fact that dictators will find an excuse to censor their people from the online world regardless of whatever we do to regulate ISPs. That is why they are dictators.

    It really is an act of desperation to use this far reaching attempt at justification because it has absolutely no merit. It's disgusting to see what a mess agencies which were designed to work for the people have become thanks to lobbyist and friendship appointments by politicians. Holding an appointment at an agency that is set to regulate and watchdog an industry you once lobbied for should be an automatic disqualification, no exceptions. Since it isn't, we get idiots like this guy...

    He does score points on how many logical fallacies he can shove into one statement:

    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/false-cause
    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/appeal-to-emo tion
    https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/personal-incredulity
    even a little bit of https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/slippery-slope in there I think

    Probably a few more can be pulled from his words too, but Im bored now...

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Insider Shop - Show Your Support!

Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.