WASHINGTON — On Thursday, the Federal Communications Commission is expected to approve the deceptively named “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” in a party-line vote, dismantling the agency’s Net Neutrality rules, abdicating FCC authority over internet service providers and clearing the way for blocking, throttling and discrimination by the nation’s largest phone and cable companies.
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his two Republican colleagues are moving forward with these plans despite unprecedented and overwhelming public opposition, which has included tens of millions of public comments, hundreds of thousands of calls to Congress opposing the agency’s actions, and more than 700 protests in all 50 states.
A rally organized by the Voices for Internet Freedom Coalition — led by the Center for Media Justice, Color Of Change, Free Press Action Fund, the National Hispanic Media Coalition and 18 Million Rising — will take place outside the FCC before the vote.
Craig Aaron, president and CEO of Free Press and Free Press Action Fund, made the following statement:
“Rarely have we seen a public servant so blatantly disregard the will of the people he’s supposed to serve. Despite undeniable public opposition across the country, the political spectrum and every corner of the internet, Ajit Pai is rushing forward with a plan that threatens to destroy the internet’s democratic, innovative and liberating nature.
“Let me be clear: Ajit Pai will not have the last word on Net Neutrality. Free Press intends to sue the FCC on the basis of its broken process, deeply flawed legal reasoning, willful rejection of evidence that contradicts its preordained conclusions, and absolute disregard for public input. We have a very strong case in court.
“Ajit Pai’s bad ideas and worse actions have sparked unprecedented public awareness of Net Neutrality and created a new generation of internet-freedom activists. People who never before joined a protest are taking to the streets in red states and blue states, big cities and small towns. They’re discussing Net Neutrality in Teen Vogue, NASCAR fan forums, Black Lives Matter meetings and church on Sunday. Eighty-three percent of Americans support real Net Neutrality and oppose this plan. The rest are either lobbyists or just haven’t yet realized that Ajit Pai is lying to them.
“Politicians who fail to pay attention do so at their peril. According to several members of Congress, calls on Capitol Hill are running 4,000-to-one for Net Neutrality and against Ajit Pai. The calls will keep coming unless Congress moves quickly to overturn what the FCC is doing. Any senator or representative who claims to be for Net Neutrality should throw out these rules and restore the clear, strong and legally sound protections already on the books.
“Net Neutrality is the uncommon policy issue to achieve such consensus of support from the people, if not all of the politicians who are supposed to represent them. That a few D.C. elites have this power — to take the right to an open internet away from so many — is a shocking measure of the deep political dysfunction at the FCC and in the Trump era. But the backlash is coming, and it will be something to behold.”