McDowell: Threats Against FCC’s Pai Could Warrant Investigation

The attacks online and in protest signage against FCC chairman Ajit Pai and his family over the Restoring Internet Freedom order circulated last week continued to draw condemnation Tuesday, including a suggestion law enforcement may need to get involved.

That included from a longtime colleague, Robert McDowell, former senior FCC Republican commissioner and now chief public policy adviser for Mobile Future.

“I am deeply concerned by, and condemn in the strongest possible terms, the recent vitriol aimed at my friend and former colleague, FCC chairman Ajit Pai, by advocates of Title II regulation of the Internet," he said.

"Beyond spewing hateful attacks at the chairman and his FCC colleagues, some are now targeting the chairman's young children."

Attacks online and in signs posted near Pai's home named his children, said they should not be able to look their democracy murdering father in the eyes, and even suggested his family should be killed so his genes would not be passed on.

Related: Pai's Net Neutrality Plan Under Cyber (Monday) Attack

"Scare tactics against any policy maker have no place in a civil democratic society," said McDowell. "But thinly veiled threats against anyone, let alone children, should be denounced and condemned by all of us and, if warranted, investigated by law enforcement authorities. In the midst of this important debate about which laws will best promote America's digital future, let's remember that we should all be working toward the same goal of expanding Internet freedom and democratic values online and throughout American society.”

“Efforts to intimidate chairman Pai and his young family through racist language and other acts are reprehensible and have no place in our civil society," added USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter. "We join others in condemning these actions.”

Several groups actively protesting against the order, and whose attacks against Pai as potentially killing the Internet or carrying the water of big telecoms, have pulled no punches,  have also been actively condemning the ugly and personal attacks on the chairman.

At a speech in Washington Tuesday (Nov. 28) defending his Restoring Internet Freedom order, Pai called for more civil debate. "This debate needs, our culture needs, a more informed discussion about public policy," he said. "We need quality information, not hysteria, because hysteria takes us to unpleasant, if not dangerous places.  We can disagree on policy.  But we shouldn’t demonize, especially when all of us share the same goal of a free and open Internet."

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.