FCC Plans Today to Privatize the Internet, Hand It Over to Giant Telecoms
Most Americans don’t want the Republican-dominated Federal Communications Commission’s plan that will have us paying more for the Internet and see some sites slowed down or blocked.
About 75% of Republicans, 89% of Democrats and 86% of Independents oppose repealing net neutrality, the rules that require equal access for all content producers and bar Internet providers from blocking or slowing internet traffic, according to a survey from the University of Maryland. The FCC, which sets rules for the Internet, is scheduled to vote today (Thursday) on the proposal, and protesters were gathering Wednesday outside the FCC office.
The commission’s three Republican commissioners, including Chairman Ajit Pai, have said they would vote for the proposal which would give them a majority over the two Democratic commissioners.
Thousands of fake comments supporting the proposed policy have been posted on the FCC website. In a random sample of 2,757 people whose emails were used to post 818,000 identical comments supporting the repeal, 72% said they had nothing to do with them, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“It makes me feel like our democracy is broken,” said Jack Hirsch, the chief executive of a software startup whose name was on one of the fake posts supporting the repeal. He actually opposes it and said the repeal would harm his San Francisco business.
“Moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda,” Schneiderman said.
Thirty-nine senators, 37 Democrats and two Independents, wrote Pai asking that the “reckless” plan be abandoned.
“The future of the internet hangs in the balance,” the senators wrote.
The FCC’s own chief technology officer, Eric Burger, who was appointed by Pai in October, said repealing net neutrality could lead to practices that are “not in the public interest” such as Internet providers blocking or throttling specific websites.
Pai, the chairman appointed by Trump, wants to end regulating broadband service as a utility. The Obama administration saw access to the Internet as a service like electricity or the telephone that all Americans should have, not a luxury for the well-heeled. A federal appeals court upheld the net neutrality rules.