As the December 14th vote to repeal net neutrality looms, 39 senators have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai strongly urging him to end the “radical and reckless plan to turn the FCC’s back on consumers and the future of the free and open internet.” Tech advocates have added to the outcry, with Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak joining much of Silicon Valley in saying the commission had a “factually inaccurate understanding of Internet technology.” That’s something the FCC should probably have a strong grasp on.
In addition to the growing collection of protests, letters, and considerations of litigation, Republican Senator John Thune saying the following on the Senate floor a day from the vote: “So many of us in Congress already agree on many of the principles of net neutrality … if Republicans and Democrats have the political support to work together on such a compromise, we can enact a regulatory framework that will stand the test of time.”
The fact that the Obama-era laws were passed in 2015 is giving fuel to opposing arguments of public interest groups and net neutrality advocates, who are considering a long and drawn out legal battle. Major players like trade group Internet Association, which includes Facebook, were “weighing their options” at this time. But, as Reuters reports, the fact that the FCC under Obama was for net neutrality just two years ago when the FCC under Trump is now against it makes the rescinding of the law “arbitrary and capricious.” This backs up Senator Thune’s proposal for passing legislation that protects the internet and consumers.
Now, back to that letter the Senators wrote. The four-page plea to have Pai go against the vote he’s championed (while just a few days ago laughing that he was a “Verizon shill“), puts in clear terms that the Senators are listening to their constituents. A recent poll that clearly spelled out in detailed terms the pros and cons of Net Neutrality resulted in 83 percent of Americans being for Net Neutrality (it’s unknown if the other 17 percent voted for Roy Moore):
“We write to urge you to abandon your reckless plan to radically alter the free and open internet as we know it. Your proposed action will amount to the largest abdication of the Federal Communications Commission’s statutory responsibilities in history.”
The letter continued to illustrate that the FCC was given the responsibility to protect the rights of consumers, but instead, the Senators wrote that they were “Walking away from their statutory duties” and this repeal would “effectively eliminate” FCC oversight over high-speed internet.
Here’s another way to put it: The FCC was supposed to destroy the Sith, not join them.