Friday, November 24, 2017

My Letter To Ajit Pai

As I am sure you know, net neutrality is currently under threat. Here's the letter I wrote to Ajit Pai, the Chairman of the FCC's board. I know that he is probably not going to change his mind, but I will also be writing a separate letter to the other board members, including Michael O'Rielly and Brendan Carr, the two other board members likely to vote for it. There will also be protests at Verizon stores soon, please make sure to get your bodies out there and tell your family, friends and neighbors to do something. The stakes are too high for apathy or being too cool for school, folks.


I am writing to you as a concerned citizen regarding your recent moves to undermine the rules for Internet service providers known as “net neutrality.” I am sure that you have heard from plenty of other people on this issue, and I would hope that my voice, added to theirs, could convince you to change your mind.

The internet is not a product, it is a national resource. It is currently where most of this nation’s public sphere plays out. As I would hope you know, the public sphere is the lifeblood of any functioning democracy. This is why in years past that the FCC has regulated radio, television, and the internet in ways that prevent distortions in the public sphere. Without those regulations the public sphere simply becomes an object to be sold to the highest bidder. The current presidential administration has been hostile to the fourth estate and seems quite comfortable with letting those with the most money have the most say. That is an assault on democracy, I would hope that you would not want to be complicit in such behavior.

Net neutrality is crucial to having a functioning public sphere in America. It prevents internet service providers, who have practical monopolies in many places, from imposing their political agendas. It allows those on the margins of society to have their voices heard without having to pay extra for it. Beyond protecting the public sphere, it prevents internet service providers from forcing their customers to pay more money to access certain parts of the internet. After all, the internet is a national resource that originated with the Department of Defense. Why should private corporations be allowed to squeeze the last dollar out of a vital institution that was built with public money? As always, it seems that corporations are the biggest “welfare queens” of them all.

I would also like to add that your former employment by Verizon concerns me. Any notion that you are totally objective on this issue, or that your primary interests lie with the American public, strain credulity. As a Verizon customer I can attest that their main concern is squeezing their customers, who are held captive because of their monopoly power, for as much money as possible. I am sure you earned a healthy salary from people like me being chiseled, but please look at the big picture. Ending net neutrality will not unleash “innovation” but will simply enable Verizon and the other wealthy telecommunications giants to engage in rent-seeking behavior.

Perhaps as a former lawyer for that corporation you are fine with that, but I would hope that you would look deeper into yourself and think long and hard about doing the right thing. We are in a moment of great historical importance, and our democracy is standing on a precipice. If I were you I would not want my name to go down in infamy as one of the enablers of the destruction of the American public sphere, and by extension, American democracy itself.

1 comment:

Terry said...

Ah- I, too, have started using the "be a hero, don't be a skunk," and "consider your legacy," urgings to our reps. None of the 3 of them has the slightest interest in stopping the dismantling of our democracy and all the good things that were accomplished in the last half-century, nor do they care one whit about the millions who will be out on the streets, and or killed by their party's murderous tax con. But I send them anyway. And I wonder if Pai, or Sasse, Fischer, or Bacon, ever even read any of the letters or emails or petitions. I somehow feel they don't. Maybe their staffers give them numbers: 1003 against, 34 for, etc. Yet people who are supposed to know say they are effective, so I keep churning them out. Occasionally I'd drop a farthing in the basket, when I can.