Ajit Pai gives a nice nothingburger to those in Congress demanding answers on net neutrality

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Ajit Pai gives a nice nothingburger to those in Congress demanding answers on net neutrality

Around the time of the FCC’s vote to roll back existing 2015 rules and replace them with threadbare new ones, many senators and representatives were sending stern letters to the agency informing its chairman of their displeasure. Pai has recently responded to these diverse voices of concern — with a form letter repeating the same misinformation he and other proponents were spouting all through 2017.

Dozens in Congress received the same letter in the past couple of weeks, regardless of their position on the issue or the contents of their own letters.

“It is alarming that throughout the course of your deliberations, one must look far and wide for advocates of your proposal. Additionally, I have not heard from a single constituent in South Texas who is in favor of giving up Net Neutrality,” wrote Representative Vicente Gonzales (D-TX) in late November.

“It is not enough for the FCC to turn its back on consumers. You willfully plan to tie states’ hands to prevent them from protecting their own residents. It is a stunning regulatory overreach,” reads a letter signed by 39 senators in December. “Underlying your plan is the false notion that your action will return the internet to the supposed halcyon days of “light touch” regulation from the past… Even under the Bush-era FCC, the agency adopted open internet principles and held out the threat of regulatory action to combat harmful activity.”

“How does the FCC intend to address the concerns of small business regarding the appeal of Net Neutrality that may lead to a lack of competition in the ISP market?” asks Representative Pittenger (R-NC), in a friendlier but still critical letter. “Do you plan to accompany the elimination of Net Neutrality with deregulating efforts to expand and open the construction of needed Internet infrastructure in order to ensure sufficient competition?”

There’s even a letter from multiple Republican representatives that is almost doglike in its vapid admiration (“The record is exhaustive, every viewpoint is well represented, and the time has come for the Commission to act”) and parrot-like in its repetition of talking points (“We write today in support of the [FCC’s] plan to restore Internet freedom by reversing… a statutory scheme created for the monopoly telephone carriers of a bygone era.”)

To all these and more, Chairman Ajit Pai has the same vague, redundant response presenting the standard distortions of the campaign to replace the 2015 rules:

In early 2015, the FCC jettisoned this successful, bipartisan approach to the Internet and decided to subject the Internet to utility-style regulation designed in the 1930s to govern Ma Bell… Under Title II, annual investment in high-speed networks declined by billions of dollars… By returning to the light-touch Title I framework, we are helping consumers and promoting competition.

Practically everything he writes has been challenged by experts or is a misrepresentation of the facts. You can find the details of most of these arguments, and their counter-arguments, here.

It’s likely that Pai sent along more private notes of thanks or feels some questions were answered in the rules themselves, but it’s still disappointing to see substantive questions and concerns from the nation’s lawmakers (and his bosses) going publicly unanswered or even unacknowledged.

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