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After Buffalo, Media and Tech Can’t Look Away Any Longer

This tragedy should be a catalyst to a fundamental reckoning.
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WASHINGTON — On Tuesday, Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wisconsin), chairman of the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, released a report alleging that the Federal Communications Commission’s independence was compromised when President Obama made a statement in support of strong Net Neutrality rules.  

Obama made his statement on Nov. 10, 2014. On Feb. 25, 2015, the FCC voted to protect Internet users’ rights by reclassifying Internet access providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The decision followed a very lengthy public comment period during which 4 million people contacted the FCC, the vast majority urging the agency to pass strong Net Neutrality rules.

The report from Sen. Johnson was followed by a statement from FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, who has been outspoken in his opposition to Net Neutrality protections. In his statement, Pai claims that the FCC ruling is part of “President Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet.” He also suggests that the FCC’s Democratic leadership ignored the collective findings of the public record — even though the same record showed overwhelming public support for Net Neutrality.

Free Press Action Fund Policy Director Matt Wood made the following statement:

“It doesn’t matter how many times Ajit Pai repeats his lies. Net Neutrality isn’t Internet regulation. It’s keeping the same protections we’ve always had against phone companies interfering with the speech they carry, and making sure that those safeguards apply to broadband Internet access too — just as Congress intended.

“It’s hard to believe the histrionics Senator Johnson and Commissioner Pai use to fight against using these timeless nondiscrimination principles to keep broadband access networks from messing with content. But it appears they’ll never give up — no matter how many millions of people and thousands of businesses support the FCC’s rules.

“Commissioner Pai’s had a busy week in fantasyland. He’s once again claimed that Title II reclassification has hurt the broadband industry’s finances, despite the mountains of evidence showing that broadband investment, revenues and profits are all up. Unable to mount any credible legal challenge or factual arguments against Net Neutrality and Title II, he and his patrons in the Senate resort to their same old conspiracy theories.

“This is a smoking gun with no smoke and no gun. The FCC made its legal decisions based on thousands of pages of public-record evidence and decades of solid law. The fact that President Obama supports Net Neutrality — and has for years — should come as a surprise to no one.”

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