Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order that classified broadband service as a utility under the FCC’s Title II rules and thus sign the Internet over to greedy telecoms. The 3-2 vote was along partisan lines, of course, with the Republicans on the board in favor of the repeal.
The vote was immediately decried by the Democrats at the commission, at least 18 state attorneys general, other pro-net neutrality lawyers, and most Americans.
But these unelected bureaucrats at the FCC still did as they pleased, at the behest of their corporate puppet masters.
The FCC will undoubtedly face a legal challenge, but I have little hope that it will be in favor of the people, as opposed to the greedy ISP’s. Before, the FCC struggled in courts when challenged on the issue of net neutrality until it reclassified internet service under Title II, under the advice of judges.
There are multiple other areas where the FCC will be challenged, though. On one front, I heard that Charter was planning to fight this decision, but we’ll have to wait and see. On another front, people are investigating fraud and there is the question over whether the Dec. 14 vote was even legal.
The most vocal lawyer at the moment is Joe Schneiderman, the New York Attorney General, who has repeatedly asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to cooperate with the investigation into the fraudulent use of names and addresses in suspicious messages to the FCC.
Pai also has yet to answer about the supposed denial of service (DDoS) attack on FCC servers earlier this year and the mysterious disappearance of at least 50 consumer complaints. I don’t know if there are legal grounds to go after him for this, but it there is proof he has been bribed (which is a foregone conclusion at this point), that would be one arrest and conviction I would celebrate. But how often have government officials gotten away with actual crimes? (Too often.)
How Ajit Pai Became the Most Hated Individual on the Internet
Ajit Pai quickly became widely hated after being named FCC chair, although I already despised him after reading about his take on net neutrality when Obama was president. It became clear that Pai was going to work on behalf of telecoms, but we had no idea it would be this bad.
Earlier this year, Pai made a series of unilateral decisions, including:
- Ending the inquiry into zero-rating programs; these may undermine the spirit of net neutrality.
- Ending the lifeline program for low-income telephone customers.
- Backing off from the FCC’s defense of caps on prison phone calls.
- Getting rid of broadband subsidies for public institutions, like hospitals, as well as for small businesses.
- Making it easier for media companies to expand.
Pai established himself as a full-blown corporate shill, but we realized how dire the situation was once he was challenged. The FCC chair openly ignored public opinion and studies that contradicted his industry-approved talking points. He also lied about the feedback and made it harder for people to leave it.
He doesn’t even respect the input of the people who built the Internet.
Adding fuel to the fire was Pai’s behavior leading up to this horrible vote.
- Earlier this year, he made an awful “Mean Tweets” segment. Cringe.
- He did numerous appearances, where he bawwed about receiving negative feedback. In those interviews, he lied through his horse teeth and called net neutrality proponents irrational, hyperbolic, and desperate.
- He appeared at a conference with telecoms and made jokes about being a corporate shill.
- And on Dec. 13, he had the nerve to make this awful video in which he further mocked Internet users.
- After FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn expressed her dissent during the repeal vote, Pai chuckled and joked, “I guess I will have to put you down as a no.”
So yeah, this guy is a real peach.
Winners and Losers
In the coming days, I would like to talk about some solutions to restore net neutrality and make the Internet a place for the people who use it daily, but let’s first look at who has the most to gain and lose with this vote.
I think the immediate winners of a repeal of net neutrality are greedy telecoms like Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon, as well as their shareholders.
The immediate losers are of course regular Internet users. The Internet is a thoroughfare for information, discussion,
Other losers include the lawmakers who were against net neutrality, if Democrats play their cards right. This shouldn’t be a partisan issue, but the GOP made it one.
Possible Winners Besides the Greedy Telecoms
Two other possible winners might be Google and Amazon. What if the lack of net neutrality rules gives them more power?
Right now, Google is on the right side of this issue, even if it is for self-serving reasons. Yet it is an ever-expanding business and it controls most web traffic. Even if it has to pay, it will still be around and it’s expanding into broadband.
Amazon (which is also against the repeal) is looking to expand into the ISP business. What if it does to ISP’s what it has done to book stores and is doing to supermarkets? That would eventually make AT&T, Comcast, and other big ISP’s losers in all this.
Possible Losers Besides Actual Human Beings
With that in mind, I think some of the corporations pushing for the repeal, namely Verizon, have more to lose. If I’m right, it will be cruelly ironic yet poetic to see Verizon doing all this just to aid its competitors.
Comcast and AT&T have a better list of properties than does Verizon. Comcast is part owner of Hulu because it owns NBC Universal. AT&T owns DirecTV, it has its own cable service, and if the merger with Time Warner goes through, it will absorb spectrum. And with its purchase of Fox properties, Disney is now a majority owner of Hulu.
What does Verizon have?
It has FiOS, but it’s a fiberoptic television service which is slower than cable and requires running fiberoptic wiring through homes. Also, the TV service it isn’t available to all telephone/internet customers. Verizon has to partner with other companies to provide normal cable/dish service in certain areas.
Verizon has go90, which no one really knows or cares about.
It also has partnerships with the National Football League and the IndyCar Series, but for how long? Those partnerships could end in a few years and go to Comcast, AT&T, or another competitor. If that happens, the lucky competitor will then be inclined to thwart any connection to Verizon’s properties or charge Verizon customers more just to visit their websites or use their apps.
And Finally …
The biggest loser in all this will be Ajit Pai. He said that he and his family are receiving death threats.
I don’t condone the threats, but he has been fanning the flames and doing so much to drag his name through the mud.
Why is Ajit Pai being such an asshat who hates America?
As I’ve said several times before, this guy is a former Verizon lawyer and it is clear that he is doing these things because he thinks he will go back there and be rewarded and protected. But don’t bad things happen to those close to Donald Trump? Look at Sean Spicer.
The Kansas native has been considered a possible future candidate, but I believe he can wave those dreams goodbye. And if Verizon goes down because of its shenanigans, there goes another post-FCC option for him. If so, it couldn’t happen to a nicer person.