Net neutrality is facing a showdown at the FCC on December 14, and despite plans for numerous protests of support for the current rules, Chairman Ajit Pai's office said these "desperate" measures will not delay the vote.
Pai has stated that the current rules, which hold ISPs to a stricter standard under Title II, will be repealed, moving service providers back to laxer Title I coverage. He has said that the FCC does not need to impose any tougher rules on ISPs to protect consumers, as the Federal Trade Commission will continue to do that. His statement, however, fails to reflect the possible outcome of an AT&T case against the FTC in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit that could strip the agency of any authority it currently has over ISPs.
The city of New York and numerous groups supporting net neutrality have urged the FCC in a letter to delay the vote to allow for debate on the issue. "Given the enormous danger to consumers of losing all protections should the Ninth Circuit decide to affirm the panel decision and side with AT&T Mobility, the FCC should delay a vote until the en banc panel of the Ninth Circuit issues its decision," the letter said.
However, Pai is apparently unmoved. "This is just evidence that supporters of heavy-handed Internet regulations are becoming more desperate by the day as their effort to defeat Chairman Pai's plan to restore Internet freedom has stalled," Pai's office said in a statement. "The vote will proceed as scheduled on December 14."
Pai has gone on the record previously with a similar sentiment saying "Commission outcomes are not and cannot be decided by poll numbers or letter counts."
The war of words escalated with a statement from Harold Feld, Senior VP of consumer advocacy group Public Knowledge:
"Forty organizations ask the Federal Communications Commission why, if they are relying on the FTC to protect consumers, they do not do the prudent thing and wait until the cloud over FTC jurisdiction is resolved. The FCC's official response is name calling. This tells anyone interested who is 'fear mongering' and who really has the interests of consumers at heart."
In related news, the FCC has reversed course in one respect. It will now assist the New York Attorney General's office in looking into all of the fake anti-net neutrality comments submitted via the FCC site.