Over the last few months we’ve discussed how FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai has been waging a one man war on net neutrality and Title II using what can only be described as an increasingly aggressive barrage of total nonsense. Back in January Pai tried to claim that Netflix was a horrible neutrality hypocrite because the company uses relatively ordinary content delivery networks. Earlier this month Pai one-upped himself by trying to claim that meaningful neutrality consumer protections would encourage countries like Iran and North Korea to censor the Internet.
Now on the surface, it appears that Pai just doesn’t understand technology very well. Of course, once you understand that he was once a regulatory lawyer for Verizon, you realize he’s simply dressing broadband duopoly profit protection up as some kind of deeper, meaningful ethos. As such, lamenting that Title II is “Obamacare for the Internet,” is just political theater designed to rile up the base to the benefit of the broadband industry.
With net neutrality set for a vote this week, Pai has accelerated his master plan to make the largest number of inaccurate net neutrality statements in the shortest amount of time possible. For example, Pai co-wrote an editorial in the Chicago Tribune last week that tries to use Obamacare fears to insist Americans will lose the right to choose their own wireless plans if Title II based rules come to pass:
“If you like your wireless plan, you should be able to keep it. But new federal regulations may take away your freedom to choose the best broadband plan for you. It’s all part of the federal government’s 332-page plan to regulate the Internet like a public utility…take T-Mobile’s Music Freedom program, which the Internet conduct rule puts on the chopping block. The “Un-carrier” allows consumers to stream as much online music as they want without charging it against their monthly data allowance.”
I should note, upfront, that I’ve had the chance to meet FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai a couple of times, and always found him to be interesting and knowledgeable, as well as engaged on important issues. Yet, for whatever reason, when it comes to net neutrality issues, the former Verizon lawyer (clue number 1) seems to have gone off the deep end, tossed all logic and intellectual honesty out the window, in an effort to just lash out angrily with whatever he’s got. We’ve talked about his incoherent attack on Netflix and his sudden and newfound love of transparency (never noted before…).
But his latest move just strips whatever credibility he may have had on the subject completely away. He’s insisting that the FCC’s new net neutrality rules (which he opposes) will inspire North Korea and Iran to further control and censor the internet (which they already control and heavily censor). And he’s not arguing this in a “they hate us for our freedom” way, but he’s actively lying and claiming that this move — a move to guarantee openness and not censorship online — will give the North Korean and Iranian governments the political cover to censor the internet. Let’s be frank, Pai’s statements are complete nonsense.
“If in the United States we adopt regulations that assert more government control over how the Internet operates … it becomes a lot more difficult for us to go on the international stage and tell governments: ‘Look, we want you to keep your hands off the internet,’” he said.
“Even if the ideas aren’t completely identical, you can appreciate the optical difficult in trying to make that case,” he added.