As FCC Chairman Ajit Pai seems ready to do everything in his power to bring about the downfall of net neutrality, a broad coalition of individuals and businesses seems to be forming in support of a free internet. Just about everyone agrees that having fast lanes and slow lanes for content would be an overall detriment to society, forcing customers who cannot afford it to remain at speeds that would be considered embarrassingly slow in most of the Westernized world.
While some broadband companies are behind the idea of dismantling equal access to websites since it would improve their bottom line, nearly every other business is staunchly opposed to the idea on both moral and economic grounds.
The general public is very much opposed to anti-net neutrality regulations, with 77% of Americans stating that they believe all data on the internet should be treated equally according to a 2014 Gallup poll.
Unfortunately for Americans, the only place where the pro-net neutrality doesn’t seem to be as strong is on Capitol Hill. Right now, the pro-net neutrality camp seems to have the slimmest of majorities, since legislation rolling back free internet protections haven’t been pushed through.
Congress seems to be a fickle institution, especially when all it takes is a couple of swing votes either way for legislation to be on its way to the president’s desk.
Net neutrality’s tenuous position right now seems to be in direct contradiction to what the chairman of the FCC wants. Pai only has so much power he can wield without running afoul of current regulations, making his hands effectively tied as of now. That’s the reason why the public is hearing so much from him now: much of what he can do now is limited to talking and trying to frame the discourse in such a way that it makes keeping the internet open and free seem like a bad thing.
It’s a dangerous game of rhetoric that the FCC chairman is playing and one that could have a profound effect on the future of a free internet. What’s important for the public to understand is that just about anything can be shown in a certain type of light to make it seem bad or far worse than it really is. A free internet is not a bad thing, unless you stand to make billions of dollars from its downfall. Pai’s rhetoric is trying to spin it in such a way that makes it sound good that a free internet is taken from the public. It’s up to all of us to recognize his words for what they are and understand what he is trying to do to at the expense of the American people to benefit a few conglomerates.