Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai has quickly become one of the least popular figures in Silicon Valley and beyond. Just hours after announcing that he would not be appearing at the upcoming Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas (the first time in five years he will miss the event) as a result of death threats, Pai was forced to face yet another oncoming firestorm. This one emerges from the Internet Association, a trade group that represents some of the largest names in the tech world, including Alphabet, Facebook, and Amazon. On Friday, the Internet Association announced it would join a lawsuit against Pai’s decision to roll back net neutrality rules.
“The final version of Chairman Pai’s rule, as expected, dismantles popular net neutrality protections for consumers,” the Association’s president and CEO Michael Beckerman noted in a statement. This rule defies the will of a bipartisan majority of Americans and fails to preserve a free and open internet. IA intends to act as an intervenor in judicial action against this order and, along with our member companies, will continue our push to restore strong, enforceable net neutrality protections through a legislative solution.”
Other members of the Internet Association have separately stated that they will join the legal proceedings, including both Etsy and Netflix. In a statement of its own, Etsy called the net neutrality decision “deeply disappointing,” and the company’s head of advocacy and impact, Althea Erickson, said, “Etsy is continuing to fight for a free and open Internet; that’s why we intend to challenge Chairman Pai’s order in the courts.”
Netflix, on the other hand, took to Twitter to voice its support of the Internet Association’s statement. “In 2018, the Internet is united in defense of
#NetNeutrality. As for the FCC, we will see you in court,” the streaming service wrote.
A number of states as well as public interest advocacy groups have also indicated their intentions to halt the FCC’s ruling. Indeed, it would appear that some of the only companies celebrating the overturn of Obama-era rules around equal access to the web are internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon, who have effectively been given power to determine what content their customers can consume. These ISPs now have effectively free reign to block, slow access to, or charge more for certain material on the web.
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