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article imageJohn Oliver joins calls to stop the FCC destroying net neutrality

By James Walker     May 8, 2017 in Technology
HBO comedian John Oliver has joined the movement aiming to stop the FCC from scrapping its net neutrality regulations in just ten days' time. FCC chairman Ajit Pai intends to do away with the Obama-era protections and prevent them being reinstated.
Two years ago, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) formally introduced legislation that made net neutrality law. The concept aims to protect digital competition and preserve the Internet's open nature. Without the rules, internet providers could prioritise certain services above others, potentially stifling innovation.
The FCC voted in favour of ensuring net neutrality back in February 2015. U.S. President Barack Obama described the decision as "a victory for the open, fair and free Internet as we know it today." Just two years later, the legislation is about to be thrown out as new FCC chairman Ajit Pai prepares to replace it with very different rules.
Pai wants to scrap the current official regulation and switch to a more relaxed alternative approach. Internet companies would be expected to adhere to net neutrality principles, putting in writing a promise not to deliberately slow down traffic from competing services. There'd be no FCC legislation to enforce this though, putting net neutrality's future at risk.
A consortium representing over 30 Silicon Valley companies including Google, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix and Twitter has already expressed its opposition to this change. Over the weekend, popular Last Week Tonight host John Oliver added his voice to the support, urging viewers to post comments on the FCC's website in support of the current regulations.
Dedicating part of his show to the campaign, Oliver discussed why net neutrality rules are so important to the Internet. The result echoed Oliver's success during the 2015 debates in which the FCC experienced a surge of 4 million new comments after his broadcast aired. This morning, the FCC's website was reportedly inaccessible as it handled a sudden flood of comments from people who had watched the program.
Pai wants to create a new form of net neutrality that endorses the centralised web. This system doesn't align with the views of the technology industry or even many of the media companies that would benefit it.
"The Internet industry is uniform in its belief that net neutrality preserves the consumer experience, competition and innovation online," the members of the Internet Association wrote in a meeting filing last month. "In other words, existing net neutrality rules should be enforced and kept intact."
The model would be governed by the FTC, rather than the more powerful FCC. This would give firms more leeway to bend the rules. Pai wants the FCC to be lifted from responsibility for governing internet companies. In a debate late last month, he claimed "Nothing about the internet was broken in 2015."
Pai has been widely criticised for appearing to want to benefit the telecoms firms over the web's consumers. A former Verizon lawyer, he was targeted by members of the Protect the Internet organisation over the weekend who distributed net neutrality flyers in the neighbourhood near his home. The group plan to hold a "vigil" outside his house next week.
The final vote on the future of net neutrality will occur on May 18th. You can add your comments to the debate by using Oliver's redirect link,
More about Fcc, John oliver, HBO, Net neutrality, Internet
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