Net Neutrality Repeal, FCC Chairman Info Campaign Causes Reddit Uproar


Sam Brumfield, Staff Writer

On December 14th the FCC debate on net neutrality ended with a vote to repeal the Obama-era bill. The bill was originally enacted with the intent to protect consumers by restricting an ISP’s ability to charge customers. The limitations were enacted under the principle that internet service providers should enable access to all content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites. Ajit Pai, the chairman of the FCC and a former Verizon lawyer, was the primary proponent of the repeal.

The repeal was a point of uproar on social media and several other well trafficked websites. These sites together performed a protest in which they throttled or controlled the flow of data to consumers. Sites such as Netflix hoped to demonstrate what they believed the internet would become after such a repeal. On Reddit, a site where major forums are split into smaller, more focused subsidiaries called subreddits, one was created specifically to discuss the cons of net neutrality.

Pai very quickly became the most hated man on social media. Reddit also created a movement where any FCC members taking campaign donations from large ISP’s had their information displayed to the public. These displays included the amount that each received from ISP lobbying and what the politician reported their vote would be.

Dupont Photographers
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

The FCC’s view was quite different than that of the consumer on what would result from their decision.

“President Clinton got it right in 1996 when he established a free market-based approach to this new thing called the Internet, and the Internet economy we have is a result of his light-touch regulatory vision,” Pai said.

Pai has seen the conditions that lead up to the formation of tech giants such as Google and suggests that the loosening of regulations will support start-ups. Consumers will lose the protections that they previously had under the FCC’s changes however.

Controversy has been created over the FCC’s original comment submission system on their website. The site received millions of fake emails from both sides of the issue. The FCC handled this in a strange manner, however, preferentially accepting submissions supportive of a repeal. After the initial vote an uproar was caused when several individuals combed through supporter names and found deceased loved ones who could not have possibly voted on the issue. Supporter of the repeal hope to push the FCC’s decision through Congress, While Deniers hope to coerce enough of their representatives to put down the FCC’s decision.

It would seem that our faculty and student body wish for the vote to be overthrown.

One of our own computer science students, Dallas Burchfield, stated, “The net neutrality repeal has a big effect (sic) on money for corporations like Instagram and Facebook. We should not have it repealed, so our money is not promoting these companies. The less money we spend on them, the more we have in our pockets.”

That sentiment is echoed by MCSH E-learning Coordinator Jennifer Watson. “I support net neutrality and do not want ISP companies to control and tax the internet,” said Watson.

The battle for net neutrality is not over yet, however, as lawmakers in many states such as New York, Washington, and Massachusetts are proposing bills to keep many aspects of the ideals of net neutrality legal.

In Indiana the net neutrality issue is split down party lines with GOP senators in favor of repeal and Democratic senators in favor of keeping the current status quo.