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Tell Your Senators: Should Anti-Net Neutrality FCC Chairman Stay or Go?

by Countable | 9.29.17

What’s the story?

"Goodbye" or "Good Pai,” that's the question the Senate must answer.

On Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) filed cloture on the re-nomination of Ajit Pai to head the Federal Communications Commission. The vote will be held next week.

But not everyone wants to see Pai continue as FCC Chairman—most notably because of his opposition to net neutrality.

In 2015, the FCC crafted regulations to ban Internet service providers (ISPs) from throttling speeds to certain sites and giving preference to some sites over others. But Pai said these "net neutrality" rules unfairly burden the ISPs, especially "mom and pop" ones, and that the government should not preemptively impose regulations on ISPs.

"My concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on Internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out Internet access to a lot of parts of the country, in low-income, urban and rural areas," Pai said.

Pai’s position on net neutrality has made him the target of open-Internet advocates, including Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who took to the Senate floor on Wednesday to announce her opposition to Pai.

"I’m not going to vote for someone who is going to slow down and clog the Internet. And I urge my colleagues to vote no on Chairman Pai and his nomination," Cantwell told her fellow senators.

"As the chairman of the [FCC], he has demonstrated a disdain to these important public interest principles that he's supposed to be upholding. And it shows a disregard for the innovators in America that are striving so much to build the economy of the future."

President Trump nominated Pai, a Republican, to run the FCC in January. If Pai isn’t re-confirmed, he’d have to leave the FCC at the end of this year.

Why does it matter?

The idea of net neutrality is that all Internet traffic should be free to run at equal speeds. Some large ISPs support rules that would allow them to prioritize or speed-up the communications of certain sites over others, or even block some sites. Under current law, ISPs like Comcast, Verizon and AT&T are barred from dictating which sites their clients may access, or throttle-down the speed of certain sites.

To better understand this theory in practice, consider Comcast, just one of many large companies that delivers the Internet to millions of Americans. Comcast is affiliated with television producer NBC. Without net neutrality rules, Comcast would be free to promote NBC’s content over ABC’s, and/or provide slower load times for ABC.com. The Internet is currently an open superhighway; without net neutrality, that highway could have fast and slow lanes.

The FCC solicited comments on its proposal to kill net neutrality, and received a record-breaking 22 million replies, the majority of which supported net neutrality.

Cantwell referenced these numbers when she said that Pai’s plans "go against more than 10 million American consumers and innovators who have told him to keep the Internet open and free."

But Pai has argued that if the U.S. introduces strong net neutrality protections, it could provide a green light for authoritarian states to crack down on online freedoms.

"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,’" Pai said. “Even if the ideas aren’t completely identical, you can appreciate the optical difficult[y] in trying to make that case."

A Senate vote on whether to give Pai another five-year term on the FCC is scheduled for next week.

What do you think?

Should the Senate re-confirm Pai and his plan to roll back net-neutrality rules? Or do you agree with Cantwell that senators should vote no on "someone who is going to slow down and clog the internet"? Hit the Take Action button to tell your Senator how to vote—then share your comments below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: posteriori / iStockphoto)

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Written by Countable

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(643)
  • Lindsay
    09/28/2017
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    Please vote no on Pai. Net neutrality is so important- please work hard to protect it!

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  • Kyle
    09/28/2017
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    It's time to say goodbye to Pai. Find someone competent to replace him please! Remember, Net Neutrality affects everyone including y'all in politics!

    Like (82)
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  • AlexandraBeautyman
    09/28/2017
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    I am in very strong support of net neutrality and would like anyone who is against it out of government.

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  • Ross
    09/28/2017
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    Pai must go, he works for communications corporations and not the American people. Net neutrality is a must. 85004

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  • Kathleen
    09/28/2017
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    NO vote on Pai. He and his controlling agenda that favors large corporations need to go. Preserve net neutrality. Protect the consumers (me) freedom to access information. Please don't give big business the power to control what information we receive. This is an extremely dangerous precedent that would centralize control into the hands of a few powerful companies/individuals. This is not good for democracy.

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  • Cassandra
    09/28/2017
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    Net neutrality is quickly becoming one of the most important issues for this generation. Net neutrality ensure that we can grow small businesses, protest and take action politically, and allow access for people from all walks of life. You must vote for net neutrality as it is an essential part of our democracy being as it allows the voice of every person to be heard equally.

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  • Joanne
    09/28/2017
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    NO to Ajit Pai!!! The rollback of Net Neutrality must be stopped!!! Ajit Pai is moving this for the big money companies like AT & T and Comcast. The Trump-appointed chair of the FCC just released a plan to repeal the rules that protect net neutrality. These rules changes could permanently alter the future of the internet -- allowing big corporations to determine what we see, hear, and share. Net Neutrality is needed to keep the internet free and open at affordable prices for consumers. If this is allowed to happen they get to choose what what they believe is priority and slow down what they don't, causing consumers to pay more for faster service. Also, I believe, our privacy is at risk. Please do what you can to stop this. Thank you.

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  • Lauren
    09/28/2017
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    Net neutrality must remain in place. Pai must go.

    Like (17)
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  • Wynsum
    09/28/2017
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    Please do whatever is necessary to protect net neutrality and preserve free and equal access to information and communication. This is the top of a slippery slope that will lead to censorship and corporate manipulation of the dissemination of information if net neutrality is lost, particularly under this administrations zeitgeist. Oppose the anti-net neutrality chairman of the FCC or pass legislation protecting it, but do not let corporations or politicians stem the flow of information that is available to one and all.

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  • Mike
    09/28/2017
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    Shot Pai must go. Internet neutrality must prevail.

    Like (15)
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  • Caroline
    09/28/2017
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    Please vote no on Pai.

    Like (15)
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  • Brent
    09/28/2017
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    Time to say bye bye to Pai. This guy seems like he’s in the pocket of big business, no interest in protecting consumers.

    Like (15)
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  • Sam
    09/28/2017
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    No Pai. Bye bye. Keep net neutrality.

    Like (13)
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  • James
    09/28/2017
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    Please protect net neutrality at all costs

    Like (9)
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  • Preston
    09/28/2017
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    Net neutrality is a key issue for the freedoms of Americans. We must not allow corporate America to take even more control over the internet.

    Like (9)
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  • Linda
    09/28/2017
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    Please say NO to Pai. Net neutrality is important to all users. The ISPs shouldn't control what sites I can see for the fortune I already pay them for access!

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  • Ally.nickerson
    09/28/2017
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    Please vote to oppose the reelection of Pai. Net neutrality is a pillar of free speech and can't be bogged down by ISPs trying to turn a bigger profit.

    Like (8)
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  • Gus
    09/28/2017
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    Please vote no on Pai. Net neutrality is so important- please work hard to protect it!

    Like (7)
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  • DBCares
    09/28/2017
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    No chairman of the FCC should be pro business for the communications industry controlling the internet. The internet has an enormous potential to be a powerful Democratizing force in America for minorities and the poor if it is accessible. The drive by the communications industry to sell both bandwidth and speed in tiers based on price is the way to oppress the already economically disadvantaged. A chairman of the FCC should promote net neutrality and equality of access for all not limit access by allowing 'economic tiers'.

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  • Deidre
    09/28/2017
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    Net neutrality is VERY important to our basic freedom and should NOT be abridged.

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