FCC's Ajit Pai: By Making Sure The Internet Is Open And Free… It Will Inspire North Korea And Cuba To Censor
from the say-what-now? dept
I should note, upfront, that I’ve had the chance to meet FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai a couple of times, and always found him to be interesting and knowledgeable, as well as engaged on important issues. Yet, for whatever reason, when it comes to net neutrality issues, the former Verizon lawyer (clue number 1) seems to have gone off the deep end, tossed all logic and intellectual honesty out the window, in an effort to just lash out angrily with whatever he’s got. We’ve talked about his incoherent attack on Netflix and his sudden and newfound love of transparency (never noted before…).
But his latest move just strips whatever credibility he may have had on the subject completely away. He’s insisting that the FCC’s new net neutrality rules (which he opposes) will inspire North Korea and Iran to further control and censor the internet (which they already control and heavily censor). And he’s not arguing this in a “they hate us for our freedom” way, but he’s actively lying and claiming that this move — a move to guarantee openness and not censorship online — will give the North Korean and Iranian governments the political cover to censor the internet. Let’s be frank, Pai’s statements are complete nonsense.
“If in the United States we adopt regulations that assert more government control over how the Internet operates … it becomes a lot more difficult for us to go on the international stage and tell governments: ‘Look, we want you to keep your hands off the internet,’” he said.
“Even if the ideas aren’t completely identical, you can appreciate the optical difficult in trying to make that case,” he added.
Except, uh, the “rules” being described are ones that just say “the internet needs to be open and free from interference, censorship and discrimination.” I don’t see how anyone could legitimately claim this will somehow undermine a message of internet freedom. But watch Pai work himself up into a moral panic over a complete misrepresentation of what’s happening:
In the background, meanwhile, countries such as North Korea and Cuba are trying to exact more control of the Internet through an arm of the United Nations called the International Telecommunication Union, he warned.
Nations such as Turkey and China are also enacting new controls in their own countries and “testing the waters to see how much they can get away with,” Pai said.
“I think the U.S.-based system of Internet governance has served us very well and I hope we don’t do anything to jeopardize that in the near future.”
He’s right that there are questions about internet governance — and we’ve covered the various discussions on that for a while now. But the FCC’s rules to protect an open and free internet is not about “internet governance” or Cuba or North Korea censoring the internet at all. It takes a special kind of desperation to try to argue that preserving an open and free internet is actually about telling oppressive authoritarian regimes that it’s okay to censor and lock down the internet. No one believes it at all, and it just takes away whatever credibility Pai may have had on the subject.