Last-Minute Rush to Stop ‘Net Neutrality’ Repeal Vote
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Last-Minute Rush to Stop ‘Net Neutrality’ Repeal Vote

FCC Plans Today to Privatize the Internet, Hand It Over to Giant Telecoms

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

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.

ACTION BOX/What You Can Do About It

There’s still time to call Chairman Ajit Pai this morning at 202-418-1000 to tell him to delay a vote on slowing down our Internet service. Commissioner Brendan Carr can be reached at 202-418-2200. Commissioner Mignon Clyburn can be reached at 202-418-2100. Commissioner Mike O’Rielly can be reached at 202-418-2300. Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel can be reached at 202-418-2400.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been investigating the fake comments. Rep. Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.) has asked the Justice Department to investigate some of the fake comments.

“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.

Five Republican members of Congress have also expressed concern. Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) asked Pai to delay the vote and let Congress hold hearings on the issue.

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.

December 14, 2017