U.S. Senators Criticize FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s ‘Lack of Candor’

May 28, 2018 - 5 minutes read

The battle over our Internet freedom continues to rage on. It doesn’t take a staunch supporter of net neutrality to see that something smells fishy over at the FCC. Since Ajit Pai became FCC Chairman, he’s been on a warpath to dismantle some of the only rules put in place to protect our Internet usage from corporate greed.

But his reasoning for doing so can be described as dodgy at best. And Congress is getting tired of what many people see as purposeful misleading. In a new letter, thirteen Representatives call Pai out on his lack of clear explanation, and it isn’t pretty.

Dissatisfied With Deception

In a letter from the House Committee on Energy and Commerce Democrats, thirteen Congress members reiterate a set of questions about net neutrality that Pai has managed to avoid answering over the past months. Tired of playing around, they also took the time to scrutinize his “outright refusal to respond to some of the members of this Committee” and “repeated evasive responses to our inquiries.”

This letter is the latest in a string of inquiries from Representatives led by Mike Doyle (D-PA) and Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ). The questions began to fly long before the now-infamous December net neutrality vote in which the FCC agreed to dismantle the set of rules. But that vote just added more fuel to Congress’ curiosity, and they’re not letting up: “We take our oversight responsibilities very seriously, and we expect witnesses before the Committee and recipients of our letters to treat their responses the same way.”

The Representatives acknowledge that Pai never dodges meetings, it’s just that his answers are usually underwhelming and unsatisfying: “While we appreciate your continued willingness to testify before our Committee, we are concerned that you have been unable to give complete responses to verbal questions, questions for the record, or oversight letters from our members.”

The Back-And-Forth to Date

The frustrations started in June 2017, following a cyber attack on the FCC that suspiciously occurred during the net neutrality comment period. Pai evaded numerous questions by saying that since the threat was “ongoing,” revealing how the FCC is handling this threat would “undermine” their efforts.

In August, ten Congress members followed this up with an official comment that they believe the FCC’s proposal to undo net neutrality “fundamentally and profoundly runs counter to the law.” Pai response to this basically amounted to the FCC’s proposal itself with a lengthy intro exposition justifying itself.

After the December vote, another letter came from Congress, this time focusing on the myriad problems with the FCC’s commenting system. One of the issues raised was how none of their own comments were addressed. Keeping with the vague pattern, Pai responded by basically saying that everything was okay.

A Long-Term Investment

The Representatives involved know that another stern letter probably won’t be the convincing that Pai needs to improve his “lack of candor.” But that’s not the aim of all this effort. The constant back-and-forth will be a paper trail of questions and inadequate answers that could prove to be useful in the near future.

As strong supporters of reinstating net neutrality, we couldn’t be happier that many members of Congress take issue with the FCC’s recent actions. Dissolving net neutrality affects more than just mobile app developers in Los Angeles; it’s practically guaranteed that it will impact your life one way or another, regardless of what you do for a living or where you’re located in the United States.

The letter came attached to “a collection of letters that you have yet to answer completely, or at all,” as the Congress members put it. They have requested a response from Pai by June 4.

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