May 08 2017

FCC Attacks Net Neutrality, Again

Three years ago, we fought the good fight to protect the internet and with a lot of the help from the good senator from Minnesota, Al Frankin, and an HBO comedian, John Oliver, we won. It was Oliver in particular and the popularity of his then new show, “Last Week Tonight,” that really woke up the Obama FCC when his rant crashed the FCC web site.

We wrote extensively about net neutrality here, too.

Well, that was then and we have a new regime in the White House that is even less friendly to consumers who use the internet and the battle begins once again. Techdirt‘s Karl Bode explained how the new FCC chief plans to replace net neutrality:

FCC boss Ajit Pai has made no secret of his disdain for net neutrality. Or, for that matter, his general disregard for the consumer-protection authority granted the agency he’s supposed to be in charge of. Pai had already stated that his “solution” — to his perceived injustice that is net neutrality — is to replace the government’s existing, hard net neutrality rules with “voluntary commitments” by the likes of AT&T, Comcast and Verizon. From there, he hopes to leave any remaining regulatory enforcement to the under-funded and over-extended FTC (we’ve explained why this is a notably bad idea here).

Pai clarified his plans a little during a speech today in Washington, DC at an event hosted by FreedomWorks (which, not coincidentally, takes funding from the giant ISPs Pai is clearly eager to help). According to Pai, the FCC will issue a Notice of Proposed Rule Making tomorrow to begin the process of rolling back Title II and killing net neutrality. The FCC will then vote on the proposal on May 18, according to the agency head. That means there will be a full public comment period (that’s where you come in) ahead of a broader vote to kill the rules later this year.

And Once again, net neutrality hero, John Oliver, comes to the rescue and has launched a new web site, GoFCCYourself.com and has crippled the FCC web site for a second time


In this new video, Oliver notes that he registered the gofccyourself.com domain, making it simpler for annoyed net neutrality supporters to find the relevant FCC proceeding comment section on the agency’s website. And, once again, it appears that the FCC’s website was crippled by the massive influx of viewers. Shortly after the program aired, the FCC website collapsed under heavy load, and continued to suffer from issues throughout Monday (though there’s an alternative way to file your comments to the FCC via this link).

In his piece, Oliver once again urged those that care about an open internet to step up to the plate. And given net neutrality’s massive, bipartisan appeal, he suggested that “Donald Trump’s internet fans” should lend a hand:

“Every internet group needs to come together like you successfully did three years ago,” Oliver declared. “Every subculture must join as one. Gamers, YouTube celebrities, Instagram models, and even Tom from MySpace, if you’re still alive.” Oliver also implored “Donald Trump’s internet fans on sites like 4Chan and Reddit” to join the fight. “This subject is one of the things that we actually really agree on,” Oliver said.

Since data shows that satirists often do a better job informing the public than many actual news outlets, net neutrality supporters hope that Oliver’s second piece on the subject livens up what has been a fairly tepid and apathetic public reaction to the killing of the rules. ISPs and Pai hope to capitalize on debate fatigue and fractured attention spans when the agency votes to launch a notice of proposed rulemaking on May 18 to begin dismantling the rules. From there, the public commenting period will be extended until a finalizing vote later this year.

Time to step up once again.