Pai, a Republican commissioner and a former lawyer for Verizon, was interrupted when the protesters tried to unfurl a banner reading “85% Republican Voters Support Net Neutrality,” a reference to a recent poll by the University of Delaware which found broad bipartisan support for the principle that all broadband traffic should be treated equally.
In a moment that Politico’s tech policy reporter Brooks Boliek caught on camera, Dr. Margaret Flowers and Kevin Zeese were forcibly removed from the room.
— Brooks Boliek (@technocowboy) February 10, 2015
“Represent the people, stop representing Comcast! You’re here for the public interest not for the corporate interest,” Zeese yelled.
The action was organized by PopularResistance.org, of which Zeese and Flowers are members, and Fight For The Future, a coalition of internet policy advocates that are calling the Feb. 26 vote on the new rules regarding the internet “the most important FCC vote ever.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler recently announced his intention to ask that the internet be reclassified as a public utility to ensure that private companies can’t create “fast track” services which prioritize some content over others.
Pai had rejected such a move last week when Wheeler’s plan was announced, and reiterated his opposition Tuesday, after the full report was released to the commission for review.
"I have now read the 332 page plan. It is worse than I had imagined," said Pai. He said reclassification could result in onerous overregulation, high taxation, reduced consumer choice and the prospect that the FCC would have "broad and unprecedented discretion to micro-manage the internet." Gigi Sohn, special counsel at the FCC took to Twitter to “fact check” Pai’s claims.
— Gigi Sohn (@GigiBSohnFCC) February 10, 2015
Wheeler’s Feb. 4 announcement that he plans to reclassify the internet as a utility under Title II of the Telecommunications act met with widespread approval from net neutrality advocates, but faces staunch Republican opposition.
— EFF (@EFF) February 10, 2015