Nov 28, 2017

FCC chair: Big tech firms are the real threat to net neutrality

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at an open meeting earlier this year. Photo: Robin Groulx / Axios

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai slammed Silicon Valley backlash to his plan to repeal net neutrality rules and accused major web companies of being responsible for the kind of content discrimination they oppose. "In this way, edge providers are a much bigger actual threat to an open Internet than broadband providers, especially when it comes to discrimination on the basis of viewpoint," he said.

The bigger picture: Pai has the votes to adopt his plan, which would undo the existing rules against blocking, throttling and fast lanes on the internet. Critics — many from Silicon Valley — are becoming more vocal leading up to the Dec.14 vote. And it will likely be challenged in court.

The details:

  • "They might cloak their advocacy in the public interest, but the real interest of these Internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the Internet economy," Pai said of large tech giants who favor net neutrality rules.
  • "The plan will bring back the same rules that governed the internet for most of its existence," Pai said at an event hosted by conservative groups. "Now, if you've been reading some of the media coverage about this plan, this might be news to you."
  • He ticked off the names of his celebrity critics on Twitter, like Cher and actors Mark Ruffalo, George Takei, Alyssa Milano and Kumail Nanjiani. "We need quality information, not hysteria, because hysteria takes us to unpleasant, if not dangerous places," he said.

Be smart: Pai is trying to portray opposition to the net neutrality repeal as a product of elites in tech, Hollywood and the media as opponents of his plan claim vast public support for their cause.

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