WASHINGTON — The Wall Street Journal and Politico reported Monday that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is likely to announce his plan to roll back Net Neutrality protections in a speech to right-wing activist group FreedomWorks on Wednesday.
Pai seeks to undo Net Neutrality by dismantling the legal framework essential to maintaining open internet protections. The FCC's landmark 2015 Open Internet Order rests on the laws in Title II of the Communications Act, the statute that governs the FCC and sets out the basic obligations for carriers that provide internet access.
Earlier in April, Pai met with phone- and cable-industry lobbyists and discussed replacing the FCC’s ruling with voluntary agreements by internet service providers to maintain a yet-to-be-determined set of conditions. These companies have a long history of undermining the open internet.
Free Press CEO and President Craig Aaron made the following statement:
“FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is determined to give control of the internet to companies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon, no matter the cost to our economy and democracy. He’s continuing to ignore the mountains of evidence showing that the agency’s Net Neutrality rules are protecting internet users while spurring on investment and innovation.
“Trump’s FCC chairman has put on blinders because he’s determined to take away basic rights against online discrimination that Congress granted everyone in this country, regardless of their race, ethnicity, politics or income. The right to an open internet is essential to dissenting voices, social justice advocates, artists, and competing businesses, none of whom should be at the mercy of the cable and phone companies that want to control what they say and how much they pay for access to content. It’s also a right that people of color have exercised to speak truth to power, tell their own stories and organize against the Trump administration’s racist and reactionary agenda.
“Pai doesn’t care about the millions of people who demanded real Net Neutrality rules from the Obama administration. Former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler heeded those voices in 2015, and not just because Net Neutrality is a popular cause. It’s also sound public policy, and it keeps in place the principles that have worked since the start of the internet. In 2016 the federal courts upheld the FCC’s rules and authority in every respect because the agency’s historic decision in 2015 represented a return to fundamental laws that Congress wrote for the FCC to follow.
“Pai continues to rail against the successful and essential legal framework of Title II, ignoring not only the successes of the broadband market in the two years since the FCC’s vote, but also the historic investment and competition happening on the open internet. Aggregate investments by publicly traded ISPs are up by more than 5 percent since the FCC order came down. Companies large and small have deployed next-generation gigabit services in record time, and internet users are benefiting from these new capacities.
“People will see right through Chairman Pai’s dishonest plan. As they have before, they will fight back in Congress, at the FCC and in their communities. They will use the internet to save the internet — and they will remember where their leaders in Washington stood when the future of Net Neutrality was in jeopardy.”