There’s not a ton we can do now but watch in horror as the FCC’s Republican leadership guts net neutrality. You should, of course, join the ongoing online protest. And if your representatives in Congress don’t support strong net neutrality protections, write them and explain how you won’t forget their stance next time they seek office.
But we must also face facts: The Federal Communications Commission’s Republican majority will almost certainly eliminate federal net neutrality rules this week, regardless of what the American people have to say on the matter.
The two Democrats on the five-member commission are now just along for the ride. And without the power to affect Thursday’s vote, they’re looking for creative ways to express their dissent.
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn—who, like her Democratic colleague Jessica Rosenworcel, has stuck by average internet users throughout this entire dark ordeal—has taken to openly mocking FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, if only for the fun of it. That’s only fair since Pai has spent the last month laughing and launching partisan attacks at users worried about the future of their internet.
On Tuesday, Clyburn released an edited version of Pai’s proposal to rollback the Obama-era net neutrality rules. She crossed out all but 10 words so that the proposal reads, “After further review of the record, we affirm the 2015 Open Internet Order.”
Rosenworcel, meanwhile, is determined to get to the bottom of the massive fraud that took place this summer while the FCC was accepting comments from the public concerning Pai’s proposal. She’s accused Pai of keeping secret evidence that would reveal those responsible for using the real names of Americans to file millions of comments for and against net neutrality without their consent.
Tellingly, Pai has brushed off any concerns about fraud, basically saying that he never intended to let the comments affect his decision-making in the first place. Any official finding determining the comment system had been tampered with—thus poisoning a legally required step in the rulemaking process—would only reflect how poorly and hastily he’s conducted this whole process.
Pai’s anti-net neutrality order is expected to pass this week. But advocates of the open internet will at least have their day in court. In fact, it may be more than a year before the US Court of Appeals finishes reviewing the order—and there’s always a chance Pai’s legacy will be crushed in the process.