Gigi Sohn: Aug. 30 Could Signal Closing of Open Internet

Gigi Sohn, former counselor to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and a big proponent of the Title II reclassification of ISPs, says that Aug. 30 could "well mark the official beginning of the end for the Open Internet."

That doom and gloom prediction is common among activists as the FCC prepares to vote on Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back Title II and reconsider the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. It also comes on the eve of the Aug. 30 deadline for comments on that proposal.

"With the closing of the public comment period for the FCC’s proceeding to repeal the 2015 Net Neutrality rules, the record is now full of tens of millions of comments, many of them demonstrably fake," she said.

Related: More Net Neutrality Billboards Go Up

Actually, while the rules could go, the proposal is to reclassify ISPs as a Title I information service and only to seek comment on whether the rules are needed.

"Incredibly, it doesn't even matter if the facts are real or alternative because Chairman Pai intends to ignore them all so that he can eliminate the rules and protections for internet users and innovators as quickly as possible - which also explains why he refuses to make public information that is critical to his FCC's decision-making," Sohn said in a statement marking the pending end of the comment period.

Sohn is the former head of Public Knowledge, which was at the table when the former, compromise, non-Title II-based Open Internet Order was hammered out among the FCC, ISPs and the activist group. But after the court struck down those rules, Sohn and others concluded that Title II was the only way to court-proof net neutrality regs.

Sohn is a Distinguished Fellow at the Institute for Technology Law & Policy at Georgetown University Law School.

(Photo via Rock1997Image taken on Jan. 18, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 16x9 aspect ratio.)

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.