More than three months ago, almost to the day, I wrote about the new FCC and how it will impact live streaming for consumers and content creators, “In addition to the endless lists of chaotic and unreal moves made by the new administration in the past few weeks, the Republican-controlled Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is already siding with corporations at the expense of the public, content creators, and media platforms.” I cited the success John Oliver had in 2014, the last time we faced the net neutrality issue, in rallying a tidal wave of Americans to voice their support of an open internet with the FCC and the reclassification of ISPs within Title II. My exact words were, “John Oliver – is it time for another call to arms?? (hint, hint).”
Well, it’s better late then never. Last night on Last Week Tonight, John Oliver returned with a call to arms to retain the progress made by the Obama Administration’s passing of Title II reform and other provisions by Tom Wheeler, the predecessor of the new and current FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, who just happens to be a former lawyer for Verizon.
As I stated in February, Pai has taken the lead in rolling back consumer protection regulations and the net neutrality progress made during the Obama administration, including closing out the inquiry in zero-rating offerings by AT&T and Verizon that violated the FCC’s Open Internet order, while publicly voicing his opposition to forms of internet regulation. Since then, and just last week, Pai announced further details on his plans, including removing the Title II classification of ISPs.
This more official announcement must have finally gotten the attention of Oliver and his Last Week Tonight team. During the episode Oliver made numerous points that went in contrast with what the FCC wants us to believe. One was, that while Pai blamed the Title II regulation for stifiling innovation and preventing ISPs from investing in building out infrastructure, Verizon, Pai’s former employer, publically stated that the opposite was true. In 2014, prior to the regulation passing, Francis J. Shammo, Verizon’s Executive VP and CFO, told their investors about the potential impact of Title II regulation, “This does not influence the way we invest. I mean, we’re going to continue to invest in our networks and our platforms, both in wireless and wireline FIOS and where we need to. So nothing will influence that.”
John Oliver’s Net Neutrality 2014 episode calling on people to post their comments on FCC.gov caused the site to crash. After last night’s show encouraging internet commenters to voice their displeasure to the FCC, it happened again. And this went down (no pun intended) even though the government agency has, since my last article, made it more difficult to post your comments, making a user jump through numerous web page hoops. So the Last Week Tonight peeps made it easier, launching gofccyourself.com with a 301 redirect to the final and appropriate page.
Today The Hill reports that the FCC now states their website didn’t go down last night because of a flood of comments posting to the site, but was hit by a DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attack, although they wouldn’t comment on how they determined it was an attack. So we’ll just have to take their word for it. You know, like we’ll just trust that ISPs actually believe in a free and open internet because general counsel for Verizon, Craig Silliman, said so in a corporate video.
Or that we’ll just believe Pai when he said that ISPs will “voluntarily agree…to not obstruct or slow consumer access to web content.”