By Eric Lieberman
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Michael O’Rielly said Monday that some supporters of so-called “net neutrality” rules have essentially been “brainwashed.”
“There was a lot of misinformation on the substance” of the FCC’s recent repeal of the 2015 Open Internet Order, which effectively classified the internet as a Title II utility, according to O’Rielly, speaking at a media briefing. “People were relaying wrong information,” and there were at least “15 different definitions” for what net neutrality is, said O’Rielly.
When asked if he thought Republicans such as himself and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai could have done more to change the tenor of the debate, O’Rielly said it was people on the other side that should be mostly to blame.
Net neutrality supporters “were late to the game with quelling hatred and violent rhetoric,” said O’Rielly, who added that he believes in the right of protesters to publicly express their opinions.
The debate over the newly imposed internet regulations reached a pinnacle of acerbity and intensity in the months heading up to the FCC’s decision.
Certain net neutrality activists and supporters constantly launched extremely vile and racist attacks against Pai. There was also a security scare during Pai’s public speech detailing the end of net neutrality — a bomb threat was called in, and the room was forced to evacuate.
The threats became so pervasive that Pai felt forced to cancel an appearance at a popular tech conference he often attended without fear.
O’Rielly said that in his many years in Washington D.C., the fervor surrounding this issue — which is being re-stoked — is just as impassioned, if not more, then past situations related to wars or government shutdowns.
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