- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Progressives mounted a last-ditch effort Wednesday to derail the Federal Communications Commission’s anticipated repeal of net neutrality, a wonky policy issue that has spun up the left like nothing since conservatives at Berkeley.

Democrats called on the commission to delay its Thursday vote while protesters, including activists from left-wing groups associated with antifa, prepared for a mass resistance outside the FCC that could include clashes with police.

“We can’t let them get away with this!” said Popular Resistance, which asked for volunteers at its “action” who can “risk arrest.” “We need to have a strong presence at the FCC on the day they vote to deter them from ending net neutrality. Maybe we can even shut the FCC down.”

None of this is likely to deter FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who already has endured racial slurs, activists camped out at his home, and threats to himself and his family after releasing Nov. 21 the draft proposal to dismantle the Obama-era Title II regulatory framework.

From a cost-benefit perspective, the outrage is understandable. Leftist foundations like Ford and Open Society, funded by George Soros, spent $196 million on net-neutrality groups over 13 years leading up the FCC’s landmark 2015 vote, according to the Media Research Center.

The rule allowed the FCC to regulate the internet like a public utility and placed unprecedented government control over internet service providers [ISPs] like Verizon and Comcast in what Free the internet described as “the tech-left’s takeover of the internet.”

“For the tech-left, the internet’s ability to empower individuals, uphold freedom of speech, and protect the diversity of ideas is a direct threat to their political power and control,” said the free-market group. “Control the medium, and you control the message. By controlling the internet in all of its facets, they hope to be the gatekeepers of the political discourse and ideas that travel through it.”

Foes of net neutrality argue that the opposite is true: That big corporations will strangle the internet by moving to raise prices and control access unless the government stops them.

Fight for the Future, a pro-net neutrality group, urged members of Congress to intervene, saying that “their actions over the next 48 hours will determine whether they are remembered as the lawmakers who answered their constituents’ call, or the politicians who let the free and open internet die.”

Twenty Senate Democrats led by Washington’s Patty Murray urged Mr. Pai in a letter to delay a vote until he can “satisfactorily answer” questions on how the proposal will affect “our nation’s education system.”

“By overturning the commission’s current rules that preserve net neutrality and prevent internet service providers from blocking, throttling, or otherwise privileging lawful content, we fear that the Draft Order could harm our nation’s students and schools — especially those in rural and low-income communities,” the letter reads.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced Wednesday that as many as two million comments on the proposed repeal received by the FCC were fake, using the identities of real Americans, and called on Mr. Pai to postpone the vote.

“Moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of the notice and comment process mandated by the Administrative Procedure Act and reward those who perpetrated this fraud in service of their own hidden agenda,” Mr. Scheiderman said in a letter.

Mr. Pai has said that the comment review process would favor quality over quantity, while the conservative National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) conducted a four-part forensic analysis from May to August that found fraudulent filings on both sides of the issue.

“Schneiderman is hardly credible. He is a screaming partisan. It is hard to take him seriously,” said NLPC President Peter Flaherty. “He would have you believe that only anti-net neutrality messages were fraudulent, when in fact we found that millions, and perhaps a majority, of the pro-net neutrality comments were counterfeit. It is obvious that there were fake filings on both sides.”

On social media, however, those in favor of net neutrality dominated. Actor Mark Hamill declared an “internet emergency,” while Rep. Ted Lieu, California Democrat, said that Mr. Pai “may be complicit with criminal activity.”

There were calls Wednesday for net-neutrality fans to cool the rhetoric — former FCC chairman Michael Powell posted an op-ed in Recode called “Let’s Calm Down” — prompting the website Verge to fire back with, “No, Michael Powell, let’s not ‘calm down’ about net neutrality.”

Mr. Pai also made an effort. “What will you be able to do on the internet after the @FCC repeals utility-style regulations tomorrow?” he asked on Twitter. “Everything.”

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