Ten days from now, on December 14, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is scheduled to vote on a proposal from Chairman Ajit Pai that opponents say would rescind the 2015 commission ruling that the internet is a “common carrier” and that service providers must treat all internet traffic equally. Pai’s proposal would strip the internet’s “common carrier” rule and replace it with encouragement for internet service providers to behave responsibly.
Pai believes that will happen because the market will force providers to do the right thing. Not everyone agrees.
This Thursday some 600 demonstrations and marches are scheduled to take place in all 50 states protesting Pai’s proposed changes. The protests are scheduled to be held at Verizon stores and congressional offices.
Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said:
This is the free speech fight of our generation and Internet users are pissed off and paying attention. Ajit Pai may be owned by Verizon, but he has to answer to Congress, and lawmakers have to answer to us, their constituents. The corrupt bureaucrats trying to kill net neutrality are hoping to avoid public backlash by burying the news over the Holiday weekend. We’re taking our protest from the Internet to the streets to make sure that doesn’t happen.
The Hill website reported this morning that 27 U.S. Senators are calling on the FCC to delay the scheduled December 14 votes, citing concerns over reports that the agency’s public comment files may be littered with tens of thousands of fake comments and up to an additional 50,000 complaints may have been excluded from the public record. The FCC reportedly received more than 2 million comments on Chairman Pai’s proposal.
Among the signers of the letter are Senators Charles Shumer (D-NY), Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA). The letter, cited at The Hill, reads in part:
A free and open Internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding. In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.
The FCC is made up of five commissioners, including the chairman. With a Republican president in office the commission includes three Republicans who are expected to support Pai’s proposal and two Democrats who are not.