On January 20, 2021, Aji Pai’s tenure as the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission finally ended. Pai was easily the worst FCC chairperson in history, so his departure is cause for celebration. Now, I don’t know how much President Joe Biden or his choice for FCC chair will do to mitigate all the damage that Pai did while holding that position, but I have a few ideas.Continue reading “Pai Is Finally out at the FCC. What Does That Mean for Net Neutrality?”
To be honest, net neutrality won’t necessarily end until we stop fighting, but getting the Congressional Review Act Discharge Petition signed in the U.S. House of Representatives is our latest battle. And it is a battle worth fighting.
As I discussed in May, the Senate started its own discharge petition. That was process was started by Sen. Ed Markey (D-Massachusetts) and it eventually passed the chamber one week after it was formally introduced. In the end, Senate Democrats received the help of three Republicans: Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), the now-disgraced Susan Collins, and John Kennedy (Louisiana) in a surprising move.
The passage of the petition was crucial because Congress had a 60-work-day window to act after Ajit Pai rolled out his plan to end net neutrality, which took effect on June 11. Since the process in the Senate was started in May, Democrats in the Senate got a head start. However, the House needed to pass its own petition by the end of the year and that process was always going to be harder.
In the Senate, Democrats needed only 30 signatures to force a vote on the CRA petition. They also needed to vote together and get 2 extra votes to pass the legislation. In the House, 218 signatures were required to even get a vote, so Democrats needed far more help from Republicans in that chamber.
Currently, there are only 197 seats held by Democrats in the House. In order to get a vote on CRA legislation, Democrats need to band together, but receive the help of 21 Republicans. If those weren’t difficult enough, there is now another complication: at least 17 Democrats have failed to sign the petition thus far.
Who Are Those Democrats?
As reported by Motherboard, there were 18 Democrats who failed to sign the petition at the beginning of this month. Two of those Democrats, Joseph Morelle (from New York’s 25th Congressional District) and Mary Kay Scanlon (from Pennsylvania’s 7th Congressional District) won special elections this year and Scanlon was recently sworn in. However, only Morelle indicated that he would sign the petition and the other Democrats, including Scanlon, had received generous donations from the telecom industry.
Below is a list of Democrats who have failed to sign the petition thus far (minus Morelle). The screenshot was taken from Motherboard’s article:
Since then, Morelle made good on his promise. Also, Rep. Wilson signed on. Thus, here is a revised list:
What Can We Do to Save Net Neutrality?
We need to contact the lawmakers who aren’t already on board, and that will include some Republicans. I really hate talking on the phone, but that’s one thing I can do.
How Much Time Do We Have?
We don’t have a lot of time, but we were recently given a reprieve by Trump himself because he started pushing hard for the stupid border wall — yet again. (Today, he held a meeting with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in the oval office to discuss the wall and threatened to shut down the government if there wasn’t $5 billion for that wall in the next spending bill.) We had until December 10 for the House to sign the petition and get a vote, but because of the upcoming budget fight, the legislative session in Congress has been extended. We might have until the 21st to get that vote, but that is much better than we had.
Can We Do This?
Now, even if the CRA legislation is passed by the House, it still has to be signed by Trump. That seems like a longshot, to say the least, but if we play it right, we might be able to put enough pressure on Trump to sign it. (It would depend on the Republicans who vote in favor of the legislation, too, but public opinion is well in favor of net neutrality.)
Even if Trump vetoes the legislation, we will make a powerful statement by getting both house of Congress on board before the new Democratic majority in the House. And it will mean that we will need to remove Republicans from the Senate in order to restore net neutrality. We will see in the coming weeks and months if this is a hill Republicans want to die on. Ultimately, Democrats need to make net neutrality one of their signature platform items because the more people know what net neutrality is and how important it is, the more they like it.
In Part 2 of this series, I talked about the incidents that happened since Alex Jones was banned from various platforms. I also talked about how I felt about Jones being targeted. Additionally, since I found out that the U.S. government (and the European Union) was involved, it made me think deeper about the issue of online censorship.
Now, it’s been over a month since I last visited this series, but a lot more has happened on this front. Before I can get into the nitty-gritty, I will need to talk about a few of these developments.
In Part 1 of this series, I talked about the fallout from Alex Jones’ dismissal from certain platforms and the effect it has had on progressives. In particular, a fight has been raging about the concept of free speech and whether or not there are limits to it. As a result, a number of progressives have turned on each other, at least in this arena. As the title of these posts suggests, I have a problem with that because progressives need to stick together.
I am also troubled by the way people are going about this argument. While both sides in this debate have valid points, one side has stronger ones, but even people on that side have made a series of argumentative missteps. In sniping at each other, progressives in this fight have subverted their own arguments to a degree.
Now, one is certain: Alex Jones’ banishment is the start of a widescale sweep and things will get worse before they get better. That said, I would like to revisit my thoughts on his banishment and talk about the effect it can have on many others.
Last week, I weighed in on the Alex Jones controversy. In short, I said that I felt that his banishment certain platforms, namely Facebook and YouTube, was justified on the grounds that he violated their terms of service. Since then, the fight waged on, particularly among progressives. That part bothers me, but this situation has opened up a very important discussion about free speech and censorship.
This is going to be a three-parter. There’s a lot to go through, so here is my basic message:
Progressives need to talk this out while remaining respectful to each other. I know that this situation has revealed some people’s inner thoughts and to an extent, it is driven by schadenfreude. However, that is no reason for progressives to get mad at each other.
Also, we need to have an honest discussion about free speech and censorship. It’s important for lefties to get on the same page on this issue because they are their own best advocates.
In that spirit, I would like to reexamine this issue and figure out where I stand on it now. In this first part, I will examine the two sides in this issue — among progressives, of course. In the next two posts, I will look at what I now think about this situation and how we can move forward in this discussion.
Right now, there’s a net neutrality bill being considered in California. I talked about this in an earlier post, but SB 822 still faces hurdles in the California Assembly. One of the hurdles it has faced recently was in the Communications and Conveyance Committee last month. Now, it appears that the bill may be back on track, but I do not trust a few of the actors involved.
In numerous posts on this blog, I have talked about the issue of net neutrality. I talked about the Republican-led Federal Communications Commission’s drive to overturn the 2015 Open Internet Order, which was passed by a Democratic-led FCC during the Obama Administration. I also talked about the agenda of current FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. This time, I need to talk about the timetable for the rollback of that 2015 order, the response to the FCC’s December 2017 decision, and what can be done to fight back.
On Thursday, May 10, 2018, the FCC announced that the 2015 Open Internet Order would expire on June 11, 2015. Pai said that internet service providers had 30 days to comply with the new rules.
As those following this story know, net neutrality is highly popular and most who understand what it is are in favor of it. In fact, a poll conducted by the University of Maryland’s Program for Public Consultation showed that 83% of respondents (regardless of their pollical leanings) favored net neutrality. Pai’s decision is unpopular and should be fought every step of the way.
Tim Berners-Lee, one of the inventors of the Internet, made a plea to U.S. lawmakers:
Democrats at the FCC, in Congress, and in numerous states have already responded in numerous ways. Since early December, over half of the states have done a combination of the following:
- Issuing executive orders
- Considering legislation to save net neutrality within state borders
- Suing the FCC
In addition, numerous tech companies have displayed banners or badges that carry a “RED ALERT” message on their websites. Reddit started an “Orange(Red) Alert” in its r/announcements section. These companies have implored users and visitors to contact their members of Congress, so they will support the measure to overturn Pai’s decision.
Today, I planned to talk about the recent airstrikes carried out by the United States, the United Kingdom, and France on Syrian targets in depth, but I just need to vent right now. While doing research about the strikes and the surrounding events, I responded to a post someone made. That person was pretty nice to me, so I have no problem with him. However, I ended up arguing over the Internet with some other people and that crap was exasperating — and it was somehow more exasperating then arguing with someone face to face.
I was being push to the point of being mean, y’all! I finally decided to block one person because they were being an obnoxious twat. I don’t like being mean (or blocking people), but when the people I’m talking to are being disrespectful and intellectually dishonest, I have to put my foot down. I also need to take a break.
I’m taking a break from my break to make some posts. This first one concerns the Internet, particular internet services, and the arguments that arise from it all.
Some Background Information
This weekend, I was on Twitter when I saw a trending story about Cambridge Analytica. The story was covered by The Huffington Post, among others.
Apparently, CA and its parent company had been suspended from Facebook for violating user privacy rules.
For those who don’t know what Cambridge Analytica is, it’s a political data analytics firm. CA is also part of Strategic Communication Laboratories (SCL), a British company. In 2016, Cambridge Analytica was paid millions of dollars by Donald Trump’s presidential campaign and it was extremely effective.
From the information I already had about CA, the company used data from various sources, including from social media. The employees from company bragged about their processes and information-gathering, saying that they had information from virtually all American voters. However, according to this new information, the company may have taken information from Facebook through unethical means.
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.