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Op-Ed: FCC hits the fan — Senate overturns net neutrality repeal

Seems the FCC is sensitive to criticism, and invariably reacts in the worst possible way. A cascade of events started with the net neutrality issue. The FCC was accused of faking millions of public inputs in to the debate over whether to end net neutrality. The Trump administration’s decision to do so has been widely described as a disaster for internet users, with good reason.

A few issues arose with the net neutrality repeal, notably serious allegations about the theory that FCC received millions of comments in favor of repeal. There are questions whether those comments came from real people, or were generated. The FCC, of course, says they were bona fide comments. It’s a case of “Did! Didn’t!” taken to extremes. No risk of adult behaviour here folks.

When is a DDoS attack not a DDoS attack?
Meanwhile, back in the real world, there were a flood of inputs from fans of John Oliver, a US comedian/commentator who spelled out the serious issues with the net neutrality rollover. Under ongoing criticism, a tonnage of negative commentary spurred by the Oliver, and serious doubts about the basis of the decision which was supposedly taken with public endorsement, the FCC allegedly faked a DDoS attack.

This was a truly inept response which couldn’t possibly achieve anything. DDoS attack or no DDoS attack, the allegations of fraud certainly wouldn’t be affected by a mere outage. “So your site’s down, so what? What about the fraud allegations?” The FCC tried to carry on as usual, and as usual for Trump administration, simply shot itself in the foot with its own response.

Security experts didn’t buy the DDoS attack story, and analysis showed all indications that the alleged DDoS attack and other “attacks” never happened at all. The FCC, equally ineptly, and almost entirely off topic, accused reporters of being “irresponsible” for reporting the security expert findings. The usual routine with the administration, in fact – Whatever we don’t like or is critical is automatically leftist, fake news, a witch hunt, etc. This time the formula didn’t work at all. Nobody bought it.

…There’s more? How FCC lousy issue handling works so well
The FCC, however, hasn’t simply rested on its laurels. The agency is sinking under a virtual tide of self-inflicted problems it can’t deny. A whole new raft of issues, roughly a Google News page search full, has also arisen.

On this link you’ll find about a years’ reading on the subject of many more turgid issues in which the FCC is dodging and ducking.
The name Federal Communications Commission is really becoming a misnomer. Even its own information is barely credible, let alone communicative. After a mere few months of posturing and arguably the most absurd, inept, maneuvering of a so-called Federal agency outside the EPA, the FCC is in big trouble.

The net neutrality repeal idea is much like the EPA’s pollution-worship ideals. Communications would be polluted with whatever some corporate dungball wants. Imagine your ISP saying you’re “not allowed” to access certain sites, and charging whatever it feels like charging for the privilege. It’s like FOX News, with less control.

Senate votes to overturn repeal of net neutrality

Meanwhile, all is not well at the FCC hot dog stand. A major bullet has hit FCC/Toyland. The Senate has voted to overturn the repeal of net neutrality. That’s a slap in the face for the administration, and a deadly hit on the FCC and its much-reviled chairman, Ajit Pai, who’s rather redundantly said to be unhappy about the Senate exercising its right to act like a legislature. Apparently the Senate has remembered that as Congress members, they do have a lot of autonomy, and can work together.

Over which cliff doth the wondrous FCC jalopy trundleth next?
Pai is in a very parlous position. His big move, the repeal of net neutrality, was also his major Brownie point in the administration. He’s been the target of a lot of severe criticism as well as genuine loathing. Pai is looking like he’ll go the way of a lot of other Trump administration appointees. Pai was working on the usual rhetorical position of deregulation. This is the conservative excuse for everything from privatization to Breitbart, and this time it’s not flying at all. The agency has basically gone over the cliff, and is heading for more flak from just about everywhere.

The FCC as an agency is also left with a massive amount of materials still hitting the fan from all directions. As a rule, any agency subjected to the sort of intense scrutiny now focused on the FCC will have a few problems.

The FCC, however, has hit a wall. It’s now in a condition of being all problems and very few solutions. That’s not a great look for a purely cosmetic administration which has said nothing for months but “everything’s going great”.

A reversal in the Senate, supposedly under administration control, isn’t exactly likely to sit well with the Great Orange Thing, either. Pai might want to start looking for matching luggage for his flight to whatever downmarket wannabe trailer park ex-Trump appointees inhabit. Remember the endless stories of people who failed The Apprentice?

There are simply too many very tough issues in which the FCC and Pai have become entangled to even describe as a shopping list. Every issue seems to have tangential factors, and the FCC isn’t handling this level of complexity well. The FCC is losing against the experts, the Senate, and the public backlash. Expect to see a lot more on the FCC, most of it very grim indeed, coming to a screen near you – Without net neutrality repeal getting in the way.

Written By

Editor-at-Large based in Sydney, Australia.

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