Yesterday, FCC chairman Ajit Pai spoke at an event where he ranted about SB 822, the California bill that rebukes his repeal of net neutrality, which passed the state legislature with overwhelming bipartisan support.
It’s more than a bit ironic that Pai chose Maine to make his remarks as both its Senators, a Republican and an Independent, voted in May to overturn his resoundingly unpopular repeal of the FCC’s open Internet protections.
"No matter how hard he tries, Ajit Pai is just never going to convince a meaningful number of Internet users that letting Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to censor the web and charge new fees is a good idea," said Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, "When Pai calls the California net neutrality bill the "most egregious" response to his repeal of net neutrality, the public knows to interpret that as "most badass." Governor Jerry Brown shouldn’t let big telecoms or con artist bureaucrats like Ajit Pai push him around. He needs to sign SB 822 and set an example for the rest of the country."
The fight over SB 822 has implications for the entire nation. Giant Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast poured enormous amounts of money into lobbying efforts to stop the legislation. They’ve even been caught funding astroturf front groups, who targeted seniors with misleading robocalls, and ran outrageous Twitter ads generating tweets targeting California assembly members that look like they’re from real constituents. One of these groups, CALinnovates, even lies about its membership, claiming Uber is a partner when the company denies it. On Thursday, an investigative report revealed that AT&T’s top lobbyist in Sacramento is not properly registered as a lobbyist, raising ethics questions.
ISP lobbyists managed to gut SB 822 once in committee. But the bill was restored and eventually passed after massive public outcry and the threat of crowdfunded billboards targeting legislators that tried to water it down.
Fight for the Future is a maintaining a click-to-call tool and public scoreboard of how California legislators voted at battleforthenet.com/california, and will continue advocacy to ensure that Governor Jerry Brown signs SB 822 into law.