The Worst Lies From Yesterday's Anti-Net Neutrality Speech
Yesterday, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his plan to repeal the 2015 Open Internet Order, which prevented internet service providers (ISPs) from blocking or prioritizing certain traffic, and reclassified providers as “common carriers.” Up to that moment, Pai had kept reasonably quiet about how he planned to dismantle net neutrality, saying only that he favored an open internet but opposed the reclassification of ISPs as common carriers.
Pai’s announcement took the form of a poorly-reasoned attack on net neutrality, which was later posted to the FCC’s website. He warned that net neutrality’s proponents actually had a “longstanding goal of forcing the Internet under the federal government’s control,” attacked the internet advocacy group Free Press, and even name-checked the Drudge report. It was a full-throated defense of his indefensible position on net neutrality—a position that only the strongest free-market libertarians and people whose paychecks come from Comcast or Verizon could support.
Of all the points contained in Pai’s rant, four particularly egregious lies stood out to us.
1. Net neutrality is worse for online privacy
Pai argued that reclassifying ISPs as common carriers and therefore returning them to FTC jurisdiction would be the “best path toward protecting Americans’ online privacy,” because “the nation’s most expert and experienced privacy regulator” would be regulating it again. As we’ve pointed out repeatedly, the whole reason that ISPs and Republicans pushed the idea of restoring online privacy oversight to the FTC instead of the FCC is that they know the FTC’s regime is weaker, and that agency can only go after violations after they’ve already happened. The FCC, on the other hand, has the power to issue rules preventing violations before they happen. The FCC privacy rules that Congress just obliterated were undoubtedly stronger than the FTC status quo, because they required opt-in consent before ISPs could sell your browsing history.