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FCC & Net Neutrality: The Decision Stinks

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai had promised to "take a weed whacker" to net neutrality rules.

There's an interesting piece in Fast Company that says the Federal Communications Commission's decision yesterday to kill the net neutrality rule "smells bad" and most likely will be overturned, either by Congress or in the courts.

While Chairman Ajit Pai's "power play" succeeded, the article says, the ruling that threatens to increase the cost of internet activity in a variety of ways is already under serious attack and most likely will be overturned.

I found this passage in the article particularly interesting:

But aside from the core policy debate, the way Pai achieved his goal today smells bad. And, I’d argue, it’s not going to hold up in court, or, likely, in the Congress.

For one thing, it wasn’t very democratic.

Big regulatory changes are subject to public comment. The law says those comments are to be carefully scrutinized, and that their substance is to inform the actions of the commission. But in this case Pai and the commission seem to have disregarded the overwhelming sentiment in the comments to preserve the network neutrality rules. The comment system itself was plagued with bogus comments and possibly a hack, which the commission seemed to have used as cover for disregarding the millions of legitimate comments.

(Last night I saw a tweet directed to Pai by a guy who wondered how his mother, who has been dead for more than a year, could have sent two comments to the FCC supporting the decision to kill off net neutrality.)

The FCC’s move today is consistent with the Trump administration’s deregulatory agenda. It also felt capricious–another example of the wildly partisan, winner-takes-all politics of the Donald Trump era. It’s an environment that’s been stewing in Washington since the arrival of Newt Gingrich in the early 1990s, and it’s now infected an FCC that’s long been known for its bipartisan way of doing business.

For sure, the highly partisan decision was made on the day that Trump announced with much ballyhoo how his administration is slashing government regulations so American business can prosper, unfettered by such inconveniences as health and safety regulations, and in the case of net neutrality, a regulation to keep the internet open and free to all.

The FCC, in years past, has had a reputation for bipartisanship. The net neutrality ruling tosses that in the trash can. As Fast Company said, it "smells bad."

I say it stinks and can't wait for Republicans and Democrats in Congress to come together, or for the courts to roll it back.


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