What FCC chair Ajit Pai gets wrong about net neutrality

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[Commentary] Ending network neutrality — leaving broadband providers to chase profits without public obligations — would be a disastrous reversal of communications policy that dates to the founding of the country and ensures the equal access to information that democracy needs to function. Especially in this era of steep inequality, corporate control and rising authoritarianism, the open Internet is a foundational necessity to hold the powerful to account.

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai says that he wants to “save the open Internet” but that he believes a “free market” approach, one with the FCC kept out of the way, is the best way to get there. The history behind net neutrality, however, shows just how much the open Internet has depended on regulatory protection and how much old principles such as common carriage have new life now. Without net neutrality protections, giant corporations would be “free” to create a tiered Internet, with fast lanes and preferential treatment for the biggest and most powerful (or to charge for access to them) — and independent creators, activists and everyday citizens would be “free” to have their voices marginalized online.

[Danny Kimball is assistant professor of communication and media studies at Goucher College.]


What FCC chair Ajit Pai gets wrong about net neutrality