As the Net Neutrality battle heats up, rhetoric and hyperbole is escalating primarily because of supporters’ apocalyptic visions of repeal. Given the end of the internet is apparently upon our doorstep, Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai has found himself front and center. His plan to take down the Obama-era reform has met intense resistance from tech companies, liberal activists, and the Democratic Party.
At an event at the R Street Institute in Washington D.C., Pai took aim at his critics.
First among his targets was Hollywood celebrities, who often lean to the left. Pai’s issue was with their large internet followings that give them outsized influence in public debate. The chairman is correct here, as celebrities are often able to command a political debate fairly well.
Specifically, Pai called out comedian Kumail Nanjiani, actor Mark Ruffalo, and and musician Cher.
Cher, a prominent liberal and devout Democrat, was especially over-the-top with her allegations against the proposed repeal of Net Neutrality. In a tweet, she claimed that this would allow President Trump to change the Internet.
The hyperbole is extraordinary here, but it’s fairly standard among supporters of Net Neutrality. The common implication is that the internet was an unregulated wild west prior to the Obama-era regulation. It’s talked about as if the pre-Net Neutrality era was long ago.
It’s only been two years since passage. How was the Internet prior to 2015?
In fact, outside of isolated instances, many people wouldn’t notice a significant change in the internet before and after passage in 2015. But Pai’s point is that by eliminating this regulation and eliminating the cost burden of compliance, there would be additional incentive to invest in broadband access expansion.
The claim that the internet would fall apart is grounded in the belief that discrimination will become rampant in the absence of regulation. Specifically, there would be tiered services based on usage. Additionally, there would be paywalls that certain websites would be stuck behind. To go alongside this, internet companies would throttle favorable services and slow the connection to competitors.
Now there are scattered isolated instances of this actually happening, but in general, the internet has been a technology that has moved forward, not backward. When it comes to being unfair on the internet though, Pai had his own words for a popular social networking website.
There was an episode previously where Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) was stopped by Twitter from promoting her campaign’s opposition to the social media service. As Pai notes, Twitter is apart of the problem when it comes to an open internet. The company has its own agenda and acts accordingly.
Net Neutrality promises to be a debate that won’t die anytime soon. The internet is apart of the lives of most Americans now. Because of this, there is an importance to many people that this issue be done right. Unfortunately, hyperbole is sinking what should be a thorough and informative debate. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai is right here on both the Obama-era regulation and Twitter.
Want a better Internet? Repeal Net Neutrality. Pai is on the right start.