Last week, the FCC, led by Chairman Ajit Pai, voted 3-2 along party lines to repeal net neutrality. Net neutrality, however, was popular across the aisle. A new net neutrality petition has just been started calling for Pai’s resignation over comment fraud.
Why the net neutrality petition is gunning for Ajit Pai
According to an analysis by the Pew Research Center, over 7.75 million anti-net neutrality comments were determined to be fake. Of those, 400,000 came from Russian email addresses. The petition alleges that the FCC’s comments were compromised by Russian trolls.
Pai’s previous position was a lobbyist for a number of cable and telecommunications companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T. Though he was originally talking about former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was also a telecom lobbyist, John Oliver’s metaphor rings true: “That is the equivalent of needing a babysitter, and hiring a dingo.”
Problems with the net neutrality petition
While we agree with the aim of the petition — Pai’s previous position at the very least implies a conflict of interest. Not to mention that pointing to false comments as support for his unpopular measure, the petition engages in a bit of hyperbole. It calls the fall of net neutrality “another rung on Trump’s ladder in his rise to dictatorship.”
The petition also claims that the end of net neutrality is a violation of the First Amendment of the Constitution. Though the First Amendment bars the government from interfering with free speech, the net neutrality doesn’t grant the government this right. It does, however, grant independent companies the right to block information, which is allowed by the First Amendment. For example, while the First Amendment grants everyone the right to publish a newspaper, if you can’t afford the presses, ink and paper, that’s not a First Amendment issue.
While hyperbole and misstatements undermine the petition itself, we heartily endorse its ultimate goal. Net neutrality is — though a dry topic — drastically important. Its repeal could have drastic effects against technology startups, activists and, perhaps most importantly, pornography.
It’s worth noting the fight isn’t over. Congress can still overturn the FCC’s decision. Not just that, but 17 state attorneys general are also suing the government to stop the repeal.
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