I originally had a couple of things on my Wishlist for 2018, including a desire to see the United States Congress take legislative action to overturn the recent FCC ruling that undermines the concept of “net neutrality.”
If you haven’t been paying attention to the whole net neutrality policy debacle, you should. It’s an important issue. No, considering how much we all rely on the internet—for everything from watching cat videos to telemedicine, education, research, and the dissemination of vital lifesaving and life-improving information—unrestricted and open access to Internet content is vital to our entire modern, technological society.
At its core, the concept of net neutrality is that your Internet Service Provider (ISP) should not be able to restrict access to, or reduce the speed of, your connection to certain content or websites. In other words, ISPs should be regulated as utilities, just like water, gas, and electric providers.
Some people—especially FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who voted along with two of his four other colleagues on the FCC to reverse the decision to regulate the Internet under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934—argue that regulation of the Internet stifles innovation. That’s not what hundreds of small ISPs and millions of Americans told the FCC during the public-comment time period. But such is the way of politics and big-money lobbyists.
I wouldn’t have devoted this much space to net neutrality had it not been for the following press release I received yesterday from the Consumer Technology Association (CTA):
CES 2018 Update: FCC Chairman Pai Will Not Be Attending
Arlington, VA, January 3, 2018 – The following quote is attributed to Gary Shapiro, president
and CEO, Consumer Technology Association (CTA) – owner and producer of CES®:
“Unfortunately, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is unable to attend
CES 2018. We look forward to our next opportunity to host a technology policy discussion
with him before a public audience.”
It’s not enough that Chairman Pai voted to overturn the previous regulations regarding ISPs’ handling of Internet content. The Chairman has now decided not to appear in a public forum and answer questions regarding the FCC’s egregious decision.
Evidently, he feels confident enough to make a decision that will affect the lives of tens of millions of Americans (and, potentially, billions of people around the world) against the vociferous opposition of millions of those very Americans—yet he doesn’t have the courage to appear at CES 2018 in front of the mere thousands of professionals in the industry likely to be most affected by the ruling.
So, yes, my No. 1 wish for 2018 is that Congress overrules the FCC on this decision. My second wish is that Chairman Pai feels enough public pressure that he decides to resign his position and move on to some other highly paid, lawyerly government-advisor position. Or perhaps his friends at Verizon (where he worked for two years in the early 2000s as, according to Wikipedia, “Associate General Counsel . . . where he handled competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives”) can find a position for him at that regulation-overburdened corporation.
During his 33 years of tenure in the consumer-electronics industry, Darryl Wilkinson
has made a career out of saying things that sound like they could be true about topics
he knows next to nothing about. He is currently Editor-at-Large for Sound & Vision, and
sometimes writes things that can be read—if you have nothing else to do—elsewhere.
His biggest accomplishment to date has been making a very fashionable Faraday