Yesterday, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai gave a speech lashing out at net neutrality supporters from web companies to celebrities. The speech comes amid the backdrop of massive and growing public backlash to Pai’s proposal to gut Title II net neutrality protections, with more than half a million phone calls to Congress through BattleForTheNet.com in the last week, and hundreds of protests planned across the country on December 7. Many have noted outrage coming from conservatives, libertarians, and members of Pai’s own party.
Fight for the Future campaign director Evan Greer (pronouns she/her) issued the following statement in response to Pai’s comments:
Ajit Pai’s lies are becoming more and more desperate. He’s trolling celebrities because he knows he has no substantive argument to quell the growing backlash to his extreme proposal.
Pai’s comments about web companies like Twitter make absolutely no sense. Killing net neutrality will further concentrate power on the Internet into the hands of the few largest companies that can afford to pay. Anyone concerned with large web platforms limiting free speech should support net neutrality protections, which allow startups and small businesses to compete with the big guys, and ensure that Internet users have choices.
Ajit Pai’s plan won’t stop companies like Twitter and Facebook from engaging in censorship. Instead, it will explicitly allow companies like Verizon and Comcast to engage in censorship, and it will let large platforms like Facebook or Google pay them to squash small competitors. Pai’s distortion of the facts here can only be described as Orwellian. He’s citing free speech as his reason for gutting free speech protections.
Still, we have to admit Pai is smart: when old allies in telecom oblige you to introduce a plan the entire country hates, mocking celebrities and saying a bunch of random BS is probably the best option.
Fight for the Future is a digital rights group known for their role in organizing the largest online protests in history including the SOPA Blackout, the Internet Slowdown, and the July 12 Internet-Wide Day of Action for Net Neutrality.