The FCC is only allowed to change existing policies if they can show evidence of some change in facts, so at yesterday's bomb-threat haunted hearing to destroy Net Neutrality, Trump FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and his Republican colleagues made a pro-forma recitation of the reasons justifying his extreme actions.
These reasons were lies.
The FCC said that ISPs weren't subjected to Net Neutrality rules until 2015 and nevertheless didn't violate Net Neutrality. This is a lie. ISPs did have to follow Net Neutrality on their dialup lines, and then when DSL came along, the FCC made them stick to neutrality rules, beefing them up as necessary.
The FCC said that businesses wouldn't abuse their positions to gouge their customers because of the ensuing PR nightmare. This is a lie. Ever heard of Uber surge pricing? TSA Pre-Check?
The FCC said that unless they killed Net Neutrality, ISPs wouldn't be able to prioritize self-driving cars and telemedicine. This is a lie. The 2015 rules explicitly allow ISPs to do this.
The FCC said that since Net Neutrality rules were enshrined in 2015, investment in broadband infrastructure had stagnated. This is a lie. Broadband investment increased since 2015, and the CEOs of telcoms companies told their shareholders that the 2015 rules had no bearing on their investment plans.
The FCC said that the FTC would fight anti-competitive moves by the ISPs, so Net Neutrality isn't needed. This is a lie. The FTC has no authority to act in these cases.
The FCC said that it would be OK for Comcast to censor your internet connection because Twitter and Facebook already do this when they filter your social media based on an algorithm. This is a lie. It's also really stupid.
2: "I sincerely doubt that legitimate businesses are willing to subject themselves to a PR nightmare for attempting to engage in blocking, throttling, or improper discrimination. It is simply not worth the reputational cost and potential loss of business."—Commissioner O'Rielly
Perhaps O'Rielly has never paid a surge price to hail an Uber in New York City at rush hour or stood in a hellish airport security line, while TSA Pre fliers, who paid extra for the luxury, speed blissfully through the metal detectors. We're here to tell him: Businesses try to maximize profits whenever they sniff demand. It's true that sometimes it ends in embarrassment, as when Uber instituted surge pricing following an explosion in New York City in 2016. 1 But often, the "PR nightmare" is temporary, and consumers either adjust to the new pricing arrangement or defer the service altogether. That creates a two-tiered system with some commuters speeding down Broadway in an overly expensive Uber and others stuck taking the bus. O'Rielly doubts internet service providers would take advantage of those same market forces. Ah, innocence.
Consumers can only resist when they have choices. But the FCC itself says that only slightly more than one-third of Americans have access to more than one internet provider offering service that it considers broadband. In rural areas, only 39 percent of people have access to even one broadband provider.
The Biggest Whoppers From the FCC's Net Neutrality Meeting [Issie Lapowsky, Klint Finley/Wired]
(Image: Fiona Staples/Saga)