What network neutrality madness has happened today? Take a big breath
And we'll explain: Epic trolling, online pressure, window-dressing, serious wonk writing
But why the rush?
The big question is: why does Pai insist on pushing his plan forward when there is an ever-increasing amount of serious arguments against doing so?
And the answer, sadly, is because there is an increasingly amount of serious argument against the undoing of the Open Internet rules. In much the same way that analysis of the proposed US's tax system shakeup is showing the overhaul to be more and more problematic – in that it favors the rich and seemingly puts the squeeze on everyone else – so intelligent analysis of the FCC's plan is starting to flag up just how damaging it might be.
In a lengthy blog post, telecom policy wonk Harold Feld went through four of the most important net neutrality decisions made by the FCC dating back to 2005, and revisited them in light of the changes that the current FCC proposal would bring. In short, Americans will lose a critical defense against powerful telecoms companies.
And there is, of course, still ongoing argument about the justifications put forward by Pai for changing the rules. He has persistently argued that the Open Internet order, approved in 2015, has triggered a reduction in network investment by telcos – but as has been pointed out ad nauseam, those figures were arrived by carefully cherry-picking dates, and the same companies have disclosed to their shareholders that it's not the case. But Pai continues to repeat the claim at every opportunity regardless.
That argument may finally be wearing out because in the past few days Pai has focused on the argument that the current rules are harming smaller ISPs, aka the small business defense. In an FCC press release [PDF] titled "Chairman Pai hears from small provider that have been hurt by Title II", he claims that "from Oklahoma to Ohio, from Montana to Minnesota" a "constant theme" has been how the rules have – you guessed it – "slowed investment." The same came in a tweet.
But despite having argued that the FCC is "no longer an economics-free zone" this week, there was no data provided for this argument and a subsequent dig into the FCC's own figures shows that the exact same small ISPs that claim to have scaled back their investment had in fact done the opposite and expanded their networks.
Net neutrality advocate, Free Press, wrote up and sent an analysis to the FCC, complete with a series of insults, calling Pai's assertions "skewed, factually inaccurate, and hypothetical," and complaining Big Cable seem to be "his sole source of information and talking points."
It goes on: "The providers’ own numbers belie the ideological pronouncements and evidence-free opinions they spout to the Commission on the topic of investment and deployment."
As so continues another day in the right-is-left, up-is-down net neutrality world. ®