Commissioner Ajit Pai's Misinformation Campaign
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai gave a beribboned and bedazzled gift to cable companies on Tuesday morning — just in time for Valentine’s Day.
A longtime Net Neutrality foe, Pai held a press conference at which he attacked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan to reclassify broadband providers under Title II — and give Internet users the strongest protections possible. As expected, Pai used the occasion to trot out all the timeworn fibs about the alleged harms of Net Neutrality rules.
Here’s the truth:
1. Net Neutrality doesn’t hurt investment. There’s literally no proof of such harms. In fact, Free Press research shows that before the FCC removed all broadband providers from Title II a decade ago, the telecom industry enjoyed a healthy period of investment and growth. Still don’t believe us? Then take it from the horses’ mouths: At a recent investment conference, top executives from Comcast, Verizon and other broadband companies admitted that Title II won’t harm investment. (Why the rare bit of truth from these behemoths, you might ask? They’re legally bound to be honest with investors — and they want people to buy their stocks.)
2. Net Neutrality rules won’t raise your taxes. Pai claims that such rules “[open] the door to billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband.” Billions? Really? There’s zero evidence for that: The recently renewed Internet Tax Freedom Act extends a moratorium on local and state taxes for Internet access. Cable lobbyists and their friends have made all sorts of claims about other fees and funds, but they haven’t shown any direct link between Title II and new fees.
3. Net Neutrality isn’t government regulation of the Internet. Now, we at Free Press are not opposed altogether to government regulation; without it, for example, we might still have leaded gasoline at every pump in America. In the media and telecom space, lots of rules actually promote competition and protect consumers. But Title II doesn’t regulate what’s on the Internet, or make the Internet a utility. Such rules don’t regulate what you say or see online, and they don’t impose any new rates for broadband access. They just keep the broadband provider from blocking or interfering with the choices you make when you go online.
Pai and others will continue to spread this kind of misinformation in the run-up to the FCC’s Feb. 26 vote on Wheeler’s rules — and after that too. They don’t care about protecting Internet users from abuse; the only kind of online freedom they’re seeking is the freedom for broadband providers to block or discriminate.
But here’s the deal: Millions of people have spoken out and Wheeler has listened. And the protections he’s proposing will trump any kind of valentine Pai has to offer.