Ajit Pai Now Trying To Pretend That Everybody Supported Net Neutrality Repeal

from the allergic-to-the-truth dept

By now it's abundantly clear that the Trump FCC's repeal of net neutrality was based largely on fluff and nonsense. From easily disproved claims that net neutrality protections stifled broadband investment, to claims that the rules would embolden dictators in North Korea and Iran, truth was an early and frequent casualty of the FCC's blatant effort to pander to some of the least competitive, least-liked companies in America (oh hi Comcast, didn't see you standing there). In fact throughout the repeal, the FCC's media relations office frequently just directed reporters to telecom lobbyists should they have any pesky questions.

With the rules now passed and a court battle looming, FCC boss Ajit Pai has been making the rounds continuing his postmortem assault on stubborn facts. Like over at CNET, for example, where Ajit Pai informs readers in an editorial that he really adores a "free and open internet" despite having just killed rules supporting that very concept:

"I support a free and open internet. The internet should be an open platform where you are free to go where you want, and say and do what you want, without having to ask anyone's permission. And under the Federal Communications Commission's Restoring Internet Freedom Order, which takes effect Monday, the internet will be just such an open platform. Our framework will protect consumers and promote better, faster internet access and more competition."

'Course if you've paid attention, you know the FCC's remaining oversight framework does nothing of the sort, and is effectively little more than flimsy, voluntary commitments and pinky swears by ISPs that they promise to play nice with competitors. With limited competition, FCC regulatory oversight neutered, the FTC an ill-suited replacement, and ISPs threatening to sue states that try to stand up for consumers, there's not much left intact that can keep incumbent monopoly providers on their best behavior (barring the looming lawsuits and potential reversal of the rules).

Over in an interview with Marketplace, Pai again doubles down on repeated falsehoods, including a new claim that the repeal somehow had broad public support:

Marketplace....this is not a popular decision. Millions of people have written in opposition to it. Public opinion polling shows most Americans favor net neutrality, not your open internet rule. And I wonder why you're doing this then? If public opinion is against you, what are you doing?

Pai: First of all, public opinion is not against us. If you look at some of the polls —

Marketplace: No, it is, sir, come on.

Pai: If you look at some of the polling, if you dig down and see how these polls were constructed, it was clearly designed to reach a particular result. But even beyond that —

Marketplace: It's not just one, there are many surveys, sir.

Pai: The FCC’s job is not to put a finger in the wind and decide which way the winds are blowing, it's to look at the facts and make a sober judgment based on what the law is. And that is exactly what we've done here. Moreover, the long-term interest is in building better, faster, cheaper internet access. That is what consumers say when I travel around the country, and I’ve have spoken to consumers in Los Angeles to the reservation in South Dakota, places like Dahlonega, Georgia. That is what is on consumers’ minds. That is what this regulatory framework is going to deliver.

First Pai tries to claim that the public supported his repeal, then when pressed tries to claim that the polls that were conducted were somehow flawed. Neither is true. In fact, one recent survey out of the University of Maryland found that 82% of Republicans and 90% of Democrats opposed the FCC's obnoxiously-named "restoring internet freedom" repeal. And those numbers are higher than they were just a few years ago. That the public is overwhelmingly opposed to Pai's repeal is simply not debatable.

When discrediting the polls doesn't work, Pai then implies consumers aren't smart enough to realize that gutting oversight of indisputably terrible ISPs like Comcast will be secretly good for them. He then tries to insist that public opinion doesn't matter and that he's simply basing his policy decisions on cold, hard facts. Which, for a guy that claimed during the repeal that net neutrality aids fascist dictators, made up a DDOS attack, ignored countless widelesly respected internet experts and based his repeal entirely on debunked lobbyist data--is pretty amusing.

Whether Pai's repeated lies result in anything vaguely resembling accountability remains to be seen. But based on the volume of time Pai spends touring flyover country, it's pretty clear he's harboring some significant post-FCC political aspirations. Those ambitions are likely to run face first into very real voters (especially of the Millennial variety) harboring some very real annoyance at his gutting of a healthy and open internet.


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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2018 @ 3:01pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Unnecessary or not, using that name won't save you.

    Try again Richard.

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