Three years ago, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” dedicated an episode to net neutrality. At the time, the Federal Communications Commission was looking to regulate a free and open internet.
The FCC’s site crashed thanks to the flood of comments it got after that episode aired.
Oliver was back at it again on Sunday night, raising awareness about the FCC’s latest attempt at messing with web access.
President Donald Trump’s White House has announced plans to roll back net-neutrality rules.
It’s currently illegal for internet service providers to manipulate the choices we make online – like slowing access to Google but speeding up Bing for web searches, or making Netflix streaming slower so your viewing experience is intolerable. The rules level the playing field.
But Oliver points out that the new, Trump-appointed head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, may change all of that.
Oliver says that despite Pai’s public persona as a lovable nerd who drinks out of a gigantic Reese’s mug, his background should concern you.
“He’s a former lawyer for Verizon,” Oliver said.
That’s a big red flag for people who are concerned about net neutrality – not only because he used to work for a major ISP, but because it happens to be the one that successfully took the FCC to court in 2014 to change laws and regulations around net neutrality, now known as Title II.
“It’s deeply disingenuous because he has to know that Verizon, his ex-employer, won a lawsuit that meant if the FCC wanted strong, enforceable protection, its only real option was to reclassify the ISPs,” Oliver said. “Yet he cheerily insists under questioning that there was just no evidence that cable companies were engaging in rampant wrongdoing.”
But Oliver said that in 2013, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile blocked Google Wallet from their phones because it competed with the companies’ mobile-payment app, called Isis (yes, really).
Pai’s idea for how ISPs should abide by net neutrality? He has floated the idea that ISPs could “voluntarily agree” not to obstruct or slow web access for consumers by putting that in their terms of service.
“You know, the things that no human being has ever read and that can change whenever companies want them to,” Oliver said. “That idea would basically make net neutrality as binding as a proposal on ‘The Bachelor.'”
He added: “The fact is Title II is the most solid legal foundation we have right now for strong, enforceable net-neutrality protections.”
The late-night host has once more asked his audience to flood the FCC with complaints demanding it not change net-neutrality rules.
Watch the “Last Week Tonight” segment: