John Oliver, who almost single-handedly raised public awareness for the issue of net neutrality three years ago, renewed his campaign for open access to the internet on Sunday and targeted the Trump-era FCC’s proposal to reverse course.
“I’m calling upon all of you, the internets, the time-wasters and trouble-makers to join me once more in just five to 10 minutes of minor effort,” he said, rising from behind his desk on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight.”
Oliver’s team created a URL — gofccyourself.com — that expedites the laborious steps on the FCC website to make a public comment on the proposed rollback. New FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s has called for reversing Obama-era rules that placed internet service providers, or ISPs, under stricter Title II regulations and insured that they treat all traffic on their networks equally.
This means ISPs can’t block or slow down competitors or institute “fast lanes” for companies capable of paying more, such as Netflix.
“Do not tell me you do not have time to do this,” Oliver concluded, noting that this is the rare issue that should unite both left- and right-leaning folks. “If the internet is evidence of anything else, it’s evidence that we all have too much time on our hands.”
“The ISPs now have a powerful ally on their side,” Oliver noted, in the form of Pai, a former Verizon lawyer who has already declared that the “days are numbered” for Obama-era net neutrality regulations.
Oliver also mocked Pai for his “serial-killer talk” about taking a weed-wacker to regulations and for presenting himself as a “fun, down-t0-earth nerd” who frequently quotes “The Big Lewbowski” and uses an oversize Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup novelty coffee mug. Yes, really.
“It seems that the Trump era will, basically, Control-Z everything that happened on Obama’s watch,” the HBO host lamented. “I genuinely would not be surprised if one night Trump went on TV just to tell us that he had personally killed every turkey that Obama ever pardoned.”
Oliver devoted his fifth ever episode to net neutrality back in 2014, and his exhortation to contact the FCC resulted in a crash of the commission website’s comments section — and was also widely credited with passage of net neutrality regulations under former FCC chair Tom Wheeler.
The FCC issued a statement Monday regarding the cause of the delays experienced by consumers trying to file comments, saying: “Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC. While the comment system remained up and running the entire time, these DDoS events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments. We have worked with our commercial partners to address this situation and will continue to monitor developments going forward.”
Watch the video of Oliver’s report above.