John Oliver explains why you should really care about net neutrality

John Oliver Net Neutrality HBO finalHBO‘Last Week Tonight with John Oliver.’

Three years ago, “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” dedicated an episode to net neutrality. At the time, the 
Federal Communications Commission was looking to regulate a free and open internet. 

The FCC’s site crashed thanks to the flood of comments it got after that episode aired.

Well, Oliver was back at it again Sunday night, raising awareness about the FCC’s latest attempt at messing with our web access.

President Donald Trump’s White House announced plans to roll back net neutrality, or equal access for internet usage.

It’s currently illegal for internet service providers (ISPs) to manipulate the choices we all make online — like by slowing access to Google but speeding up Bing for web searches, or by making Netflix streaming slower so your viewing experience is intolerable. The rules now basically make it a level playing field for all.

But Oliver points out that the new, Trump-appointed head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, may change all of that.

Oliver argues that despite Pai’s public persona as a loveable nerd who drinks out of a gigantic Reese’s Pieces mug — we’re not kidding — his background should concern you. 

“He’s a former lawyer for Verizon,” Oliver said.

That’s a big red flag for people who are concerned about net neutrality. Not only because he used to work for a major ISP, but it happens to be the one that successfully took the FCC to court to change laws and regulations around net neutrality (now known as Title II) in 2014.

“It’s deeply disingenuous because he has to know that Verizon, his ex-employer, won a lawsuit that meant if the FCC wanted strong enforceable protection, its only real option was to reclassify the ISPs,” Oliver said. “Yet he cheerily insists under questioning that there was just no evidence that cable companies were engaging in rampant wrongdoing.”

But Oliver pointed out that in 2013, Verizon Wireless, AT&T, and T-Mobile blocked Google Wallet from their phones because it happened to compete with the companies’ own mobile payment app, called ISIS (yes, really).

What’s Pai’s idea for how ISPs should abide by net neutrality? He’s floated the idea that ISPs “voluntarily agree” to not obstruct or slow web access for consumers by putting that principle in their terms of service.

“You know, the thing that no human being has ever read and can change whenever companies want them to,” Oliver said. “That idea would basically make net neutrality as binding as a proposal on ‘The Bachelor.’

“The fact is Title II is the most solid legal foundation we have right now for strong enforceable net neutrality protections,” Oliver said. 

The late-night host has once more asked his audience to flood the FCC with complaints, demanding that it not change net neutrality. Watch the “Last Week Tonight” segment below to see how you can voice a complaint:


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