Trump’s FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, is no exception — this year he’s stooped to incredible lows in his attempt to justify his repeal of Net Neutrality and a plethora of other consumer protections.
From wireless text messaging to low-income phone access, Pai is taking a “weed-whacker” (his words, not ours) to rules regulating just about every modern mode of communication.
As the year comes to a close, we’ve compiled a list of lowlights from Pai’s misinformation campaign. Read ’em, weep — then join us in the fight to #StoptheFCC:
1. Pai acknowledges the FCC lied about a DDoS attack taking down the agency's public-comment system during the Net Neutrality repeal proceeding. This doozy was just one of many irregularities during the proceeding back in 2017. But the truth came to light this year — and we’re confident that Net Neutrality will soon be restored.
2. Pai falsely claimed that Net Neutrality rules hurt broadband investment in his testimony before Congress. As a matter of fact, that’s just one untruth in a mountain of lies the chairman told when making his case for destroying the open internet. Here’s our point-by-point takedown of his favorite arguments against Title II Net Neutrality.
3. Pai claimed that his massive handout to ISPs was necessary to promote 5G buildout. But really it just adds to companies’ bottom lines at the expense of local communities. Big wireless companies publicly informed their shareholders that 5G was on the way well before Pai delivered his gift.
4. Pai has repeatedly claimed that his main goal is to bridge the digital divide. This is a lie. With the repeal of Net Neutrality and his proposals to gut the Lifeline program, it’s clear that Pai has abandoned consumers, especially people of color and low-wage communities.
5. Pai testified before Congress that waste, fraud and abuse have “run rampant” in the Lifeline program. These reports were highly overblown, and in actuality no one — not even the conservative folks at the American Enterprise Institute — likes the idea of cutting this program and disconnecting the most vulnerable people in our society.
6. Pai lied about public calls for the FCC to “curtail” unwanted text messages. No one likes spam, but wireless carriers can already block it for you. Pai said otherwise to justify giving yet another favor to his friends at Big Wireless — this time, the ability to censor certain messages, as Verizon did back in 2007 when it blocked NARAL Pro-Choice’s text-messaging campaign.
7. Pai lied when he said he cares about serving the communications needs of Americans hit by natural disasters. In reality, he provided a much more robust restoration effort in response to Hurricane Michael’s devastation of Florida’s communications infrastructure than he did in Puerto Rico, where more than 3,000 lives were lost.
That’s why Free Press is calling on the FCC to appoint an independent commission to examine the institutional racism and other causes of Puerto Rico’s communications crisis and the lackluster response from the federal government. We’re also calling for the commission to develop recommendations on how the U.S. government can prevent such failures in the future.
8. Pai took credit for expanded broadband deployment, speeds and investment as a byproduct of his repeal of Net Neutrality. But like his boss Trump, Pai likes to take credit for good things that were already in progress before he took office. The fact is that fiber deployment was actually ticking up while the Title II Net Neutrality rules were still in place. See the data in this convenient tweet from our policy director Matt Wood, compiled by our research director S. Derek Turner.
Oh, and it gets better: Pai’s claim in February that Charter is boosting investment because of the repeal was disproved by Charter's own statements that very same day.
9. Pai broke his arm to pat himself on the back for launching the 2018 media-ownership review. But he’s actually required by law to conduct this review, and procrastinated into the 11th hour to do it — specifically the final FCC meeting of the calendar year. Womp womp.
10. Pai is hiding broadband data. Back in 2011, the FCC’s first Measuring American Broadband report showed that some ISPs, like Cablevision, were only providing 50 percent of the bandwidth they advertised.
Fast forward to this year, when Jon Brodkin reported that Pai's office not only didn’t release the report at all last year, but had refused to answer months of press inquiries as to why, and whether the FCC would release the report. Something to hide, Mr. Pai? Perhaps the fact that your friends in Big Telcom will stop at nothing when it comes to padding their profits and abusing consumer trust.
11. Pai lied about stopping enforcement of California’s new Net Neutrality law. He issued a highly disingenuous statement calling the state’s pause in enforcement a “substantial concession.” In reality, it’s only pausing to wait for resolution of the lawsuit challenging the FCC’s repeal. Huge side eye.
12. Pai is making up fantasy public support for his Net Neutrality decision. On CNET and Lord knows where else, Pai went on a publicity tour stating that public support was “not against us” in the proceeding to repeal Title II Net Neutrality. He called the University of Maryland’s poll “flawed” because it showed that 82 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats opposed his decision.
Alright, we rest our case. The bottom line is this: We’ll see you in court, Pai. And anyone else who’s out to give the keys to our airwaves, internet, wireless connections and more to greedy mega-corporations.
Free Press is suing the pants off the FCC right now to bring back Net Neutrality — and that’s just the beginning. If you’d like to help us win in court, save Net Neutrality, and continue to fight for a communications system that doesn’t suck, help support our work here.