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John Oliver is trying to save the open internet.
If you think you’ve heard something like this before, you’re right. Three years ago, Oliver asked people to leave comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) website about net neutrality.
The rallying cry worked, eventually causing the FCC’s website to crash.
Net neutrality is a founding principle of the internet that requires internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data delivered to customers the same. Under the FCC’s 2015 Open Internet Order, ISPs are forbidden from, say, slowing down Netflix while speeding up their own proprietary video-streaming service. But that could soon change.
Net neutrality is once again on the chopping block. So, in Sunday’s episode, Oliver drilled in on the opinions and beliefs of the new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who recently predicted that net neutrality’s “days are numbered.”
Oliver went through a number of former statements Pai made in regards to net neutrality, including a suggestion that ISPs voluntarily agree not to obstruct or slow consumer access to content in their terms of service agreements.
“That idea would basically make net neutrality as binding as a proposal on The Bachelor,” Oliver said.
Further, Oliver once again explained net neutrality and how it ensures a “level playing field” for internet users before sending out a rallying cry. Currently, the internet is regulated under Title II of the Communications Act, giving the FCC authority to regulate internet service providers—including the prevention of paid prioritization that could give way to fast lanes and slow lanes. Pai would like to reclassify ISPs as “information services” under Title I, which would eliminate the FCC’s legal standing to force ISPs to abide by net neutrality principles.
After noting that ISPs could be regulated through an act of Congress, Oliver reached back toward a familiar—and highly effective—way of making his listener’s voices heard.
“Sadly, it seems, once more, we the people must take this matter into our own hands,” Oliver said.
Oliver noted that now there is now a more complicated process to leave messages on the FCC website. To get around that, Last Week Tonight bought the domain name “www.gofccyourself.com,” which redirects you to the comments section on the FCC’s website.
On Sunday night, the Hill reported that Oliver’s plea to the internet succeeded in taking down the FCC’s site again. As of Monday morning, there were more than 44,000 comments on the FCC’s website regarding net neutrality’s classification under Title II.
Check out Oliver’s segment here:
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).