Trump's FCC Announces Plan to Gut Open Internet Protections and End Net Neutrality

Contact Info: 

Timothy Karr, 201-533-8838

WASHINGTON — On Wednesday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai unveiled his plan to undermine open internet protections during a speech hosted by right-wing group FreedomWorks in Washington, D.C.

President Trump’s FCC chairman said he plans a May 18 vote to launch a proposal dismantling the legal framework essential to maintaining Net Neutrality. Pai said he will recommend that the agency jettison Title II protections and once again classify broadband access providers under Title I of the Communications Act — a move that would undermine the sound and successful basis for the FCC's landmark 2015 Open Internet Order.

As just one example of that success — and despite Pai’s falsehoods to the contrary — ISP aggregate investment has gone up since the vote. In the two years since the FCC rules were passed and Title II was reinstated, investment by publicly traded broadband providers has increased by more than 5 percent compared to the two-year period prior to the ruling.

Free Press was outside the venue of Pai’s speech to provide attendees with information that highlights the many inaccuracies in previous Pai statements about Net Neutrality. Chief among these lies is Pai’s frequent claim that “broadband investment remains lower today than it was when the FCC changed course in 2015.”

Free Press distributed the following fliers to people as they entered:

Free Press Extra: Fake News at the Newseum

ISP Capital Expenditures: 2013–2016

In Their Own Words: ISP Statements to Investors About Title II’s Lack of Harmful Impacts

Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron made the following statement: 

“Pai is lying about investment and wooing the right-wing fringe to continue his long-standing war on internet freedom. His willingness to trot out alternative facts and recycle long-debunked industry talking points should worry anyone who cares about the free and open internet. There aren’t many details available yet on his proposal, but his 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.

“The outlines of Pai’s proposal are unworkable — which is probably the idea. The federal courts rejected the Title I approach twice when the FCC tried it before. And the FCC can’t simply reverse itself because its new chairman is a right-wing ideologue. Broadband is a telecommunications service, because ISPs carry traffic for internet users — this is obvious. The FCC said it was when it reclassified broadband internet access as a telecom service in 2015, the courts agreed a year later, and Pai cannot prove otherwise now. The Title II rules are working well, investment is up and any confusion in the market is coming out of Pai’s mouth. So we’re confident that if the FCC ever passes this plan, it will lose in court.

“The chairman did go out of his way to mention Free Press in his speech. While Free Press appreciates any shout-out, I’d prefer he not rely on out-of-context quotes from the professor who was one of our founders. If Pai wants to know what Free Press really stands for, he could visit our website or read any of the literally thousands of pages we have filed on the topic of Net Neutrality at the FCC over the past decade.

“In fact, I wish Pai would do just that because he might learn that his claims about broadband investment are bogus and see just how well the Net Neutrality rules are actually working. It might take him out of his bubble and show him the thousands of startups, small businesses, artists, social justice organizers and community leaders who support the free and open internet.

“If Pai would stop spending so much time with industry lobbyists and hate-mongering cranks, he might actually learn about the millions of people who fought for real Net Neutrality because they want this remarkable space for free expression, popular organizing and economic innovation to thrive. But he’ll be hearing from them soon enough.”