The GOP plan to trash net neutrality took a big step forward today as the Federal Communications Commission voted 2-1 along party lines to move ahead with chairman Ajit Pai's "Restoring Internet Freedom" proposal.
The lone Democrat on the commission, Mignon Clyburn, was heated in her opposition to the plan, as were protestors who braved 90-degree temperatures to demonstrate in front of the FCC's offices.
“While the majority engages in flowery rhetoric about light-touch regulation and so on, the endgame appears to be no-touch regulation and a wholescale destruction of the FCC’s public interest authority in the 21st century,” Clyburn said.
Today's vote is not final. There must now be a period of public input, but the outcome is pretty clear: Pai and GOP lawmakers are determined to get rid of the Obama Era regulations that treat broadband providers as utilities who must treat all traffic equally.
Net neutrality advocates say that without the rule, big companies like AT&T and Verizon will be able to put their content on a fast track while sidelining the competition. Broadband providers say they have never done that and never will.
“Pai pretends to care about the open internet, but his unworkable proposal takes away the rights of internet users," said Craig Aaron, president of Free Press, an advocacy group that has bitterly opposed the rollback.
“The chairman’s willingness to trot out alternative facts about broadband-industry investment and recycle long-debunked talking points should worry anyone who cares about the free and open internet," he said. "Pai’s intent is clear: to destroy the internet as we know it and give even more gatekeeper power to a few huge companies like AT&T, Comcast and Verizon."
Net neutrality supporters have vowed to use the public comment period to stir up more public opposition to Pai's plan. HBO comedian John Oliver has been doing just that the last few weeks. He has set up a website that makes it easy for consumers to submit their comments to the FCC.
The site is GoFCCYourself.com.