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Net Neutrality Rollback Plan Draws Crowd of Protest

FCC chairman Ajit Pai continues to hear it from groups and individuals trying to block the Dec. 14 vote on rolling back net neutrality regs.

That included yet another letter from Hill Democrats and one from over a hundred groups, including everyone from the Writer Guild of America West and the Illinois Library Association to the Prometheus Radio Project and the Harry Potter Alliance.

Reps. Jerry McNerney (D-Calif.) and Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) wrote Pai to complain that he had not provided documentation on the May distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that the FCC said hit the net neutrality comment docket. They say Pai assured them at two oversight hearings the info would be forthcoming, but it was not and Pai has not told them why, they opined

“Many unanswered questions remain about the motive behind the alleged attacks, the response of the FCC, and whether the outage had a major impact on the ability of the American people to comment on the proceeding to eliminate net neutrality protections," they said.

In the other letter, to the chairs and ranking members of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Senate Commerce Committee, the groups urge Congress to try and stop the vote, calling the rule rollback "a radical draft order proposed by Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman Ajit Pai would silence everyone’s voices and dismantle Americans’ freedoms by rolling back rules that protect net neutrality, giving companies free rein to dismantle the open internet."

Pai and his fellow Republicans are still widely expected to vote to reclassify ISPs as Title I information services and eliminate the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization. The major ISPs have pledged not to block, throttle, or engage in unreasonable discrimination, pledges that would be enforceable by the Federal Trade Commission using its Sec. 5 authority to pursue unfair or deceptive practices.

Pai and the other Republicans argue that is sufficient oversight--with the FCC enforcing transparency rules that require ISPs to disclose what practices they do plan to engage in--like paid prioritization--and the Justice Department able to pursue anti-competitive conduct under antitrust laws.

Opponents of the rollback say that is an honor system that won't work in practice, and allows for blocking, throttling, and discrimination that the current rules prevent.

Related: Activists Say They Will Protest at FCC Dec. 14