With both the Federal Communications Commission and Congress looking to undo relatively recent net neutrality rules that prohibit internet service providers from interfering with what you do online, it was once again time for Last Week Tonight‘s John Oliver to remind viewers of how important these rules are; possibly disrupting the FCC’s public commenting system in the process.
It’s been three years since Oliver first ranted about net neutrality, which at the time was still just being reconstructed after a Verizon lawsuit gutted the original 2010 rules.
“Net neutrality is objectively boring, which used to work to ISP’s advantage, but more people know what it is now,” said Oliver. Because people are more aware, ISPs have had to address the public’s concerns, but rather than admit they want to create higher-cost “fast lanes” for consumers and content providers, these companies have instead launched risible publicity campaigns where they claim to love neutrality, but just not the neutrality rules.
Oliver points to the recent Verizon video, which includes some flat-out lies, like the fact that Verizon has not advocated for an end to net neutrality.
“When Verizon claims, ‘We love the open internet; why don’t we just put it on a different legal footing?’ it’s basically O.J. Simpson asking why you won’t let him hold any of your samurai swords,” he explains. “C’mon, Juice… ya know why. You of anyone should know why.”
Oliver then likened new FCC Chair Ajit Pai — an ardent supporter of deregulation who has publicly stated that neutrality’s “days are numbered” and that “We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules” — to a serial killer.
“When the Code of Federal Regulations looks out its window at night, there’s just Ajit Pai, standing silently, holding his weed whacker, waiting for his chance,” said Oliver, who mocked Pai’s suggestion that ISPs don’t need federal regulations if they just put the neutrality rules in their terms of service — a contract that the ISP can change at any time it wishes.
“That idea would make net neutrality as binding as a proposal on The Bachelor,” responded Oliver.
If Pai believes ISPs will honor net neutrality concepts just because they say they will, Oliver suggested that the Chairman put aside his novelty oversized coffee mug and “Just pour it into your hands and trust that you won’t get burnt.”
Though the official public comment period for the neutrality rollback plan won’t open until after May 18, when the FCC has voted to begin consideration of the proposal, Oliver has nonetheless created a URL — http://ift.tt/2plaFGb — that is intended to direct viewers straight to the docket page for this issue.
Oliver’s 2014 piece on neutrality resulted in such a flood of responses that it completely crashed the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.
As of this morning, ECFS appears to still be operational, though we’ve had trouble accessing many filings on the site and searching for filings either takes an unusually long period of time or just results in a blank screen. We’ve reached out to FCC for comment on the status of ECFS and will update if we hear back.