You are here: Home » International » News » Others
Business Standard

Indian-American lawmakers, activists attack Ajit Pai on net neutrality

Pai blasted the activists for 'harassing' his family members, saying they 'crossed the line'

Press Trust of India  |  Washington 

Ajit Pai
Ajit Pai

(FCC) chairman has come under a blistering attack of several Indian-American lawmakers for his proposal to repeal the Obama-era policy.

Pai is facing backlash for his proposal which seeks to reverse Obama-era net neutrality, which meant that all websites are treated equally by providers.


The activists also protested outside Pai's home in Virginia with signs directing at his children.

Pai, 44, blasted the activists for "harassing" his family members, saying they "crossed the line".

He is facing backlash from his opponents for his proposal which seeks to reverse Obama era's net neutrality, which meant that all websites are treated equally by providers.

His proposal would end and give big providers like Comcast and Verizon broad powers to determine what website should reach out to subscribers faster than

The activists not only staged protest outside Pai's home with signs directing at his children, they also reportedly sent pizzas to his home every half-and-hour. Some media reports said the frequency was every 15 minutes.

This is the first instance that a senior Indian-American administration official in any of the presidential administration being harassed and threatened by opponents.

Signboards and placards placed by protestors outside Pai's house in Virginia mocked him for his views.

"I understand that people are passionate about policy, but the one thing in America that should remain sacred is that families, wives and kids, should remain out of it. And stop harassing us at our homes," Pai told 'Fox and Friends'.

His proposal is scheduled to come out to vote before FCC on December 14. This is expected to pass as the Republicans have five votes as against three from the Democratic Party.

Pai expressed his displeasure when asked about the protest outside his house in Virginia. "It was a little nerve-racking, especially for my wife," he said.

"regulation activists have crossed the line by threatening and harassing my family. They should leave my family out of this and focus on debating the merits of the issue," Pai was quoted as saying by The Washington Post.

In an interview to PBS News early this month, Pai had said the digital landscape has changed, and the government should stop "micromanaging the Web".

Instead, he argued, "companies should be transparent about their policies".

Free Press Action, which has been seeking condemned the personal attack against Pai and his family.

"If you are sending racist message to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, mocking his name, heritage or family, we do not want you in this new neutrality fight," it said.

Pai's proposal would end that and give big providers like Comcast and Verizon broad powers to determine what website should reach out to subscribers faster than

The controversial proposal triggered a war of words between Pai (44) and first-term Indian-American Congressman from Silicon Valley Ro Khanna.

Khanna in a tweet said, "We need stronger laws that ban most forms of zero rating instead of weakening these laws!", as he retweeted an article from the Los Angeles Times according to which "in Portugal, with no net neutrality, providers are starting to split the net into packages".

He said The FCC is giving major corporations "even more control over the media, paving the way for megamergers like Sinclair-Tribune".

"We have to fight for less consolidation to save our democracy," he added.

Pai reacted sharply, saying that Khanna was making a false accusation.

"In addition to making the false assertion that Portugal has no net neutrality, Congressman Khanna is pointing to an example that has nothing to do with net neutrality," he said.

Senator Kamala Harris said more than 7,00,000 Californians and more than 8 million Americans have already submitted comments in response to the FCC's "misguided" proposal.

"Our message has been clear: broadband providers must not be allowed to tilt the playing field by blocking or throttling their competitors, prioritising their offerings, or otherwise unreasonably interfering with lawful content," she said.

The FCC, Harris alleged, wants to do is empower broadband service providers the gatekeepers of the to potentially distort the online marketplace and set up a pay- for-play system.

"This would be a terrible mistake that would hurt the most vulnerable and voiceless among us. It will imperil our economy while reducing innovation, entrepreneurship, and creativity," she said in an email to her supporters.

Tulsi Gabbard, the first Hindu lawmaker, alleged that Pai and the FCC were rewarding "pay-to-play politics", ensuring that those with money have a seat at the table and shutting out everyone else.

"protections ensure that the remains open, fair, and equal for everyone. By dismantling these protections, we turn our backs on the most fundamental First Amendment rights of our students, entrepreneurs, innovators, small businesses, and working families, and all who rely on an open to level the playing field of opportunity," she said.

"The FCC must fulfill their responsibility to all Americans, not just big Service Providers (ISPs)," Gabbard said.

Congresswoman Pramila Jayapal said with dismantling of rules, the competition among new streaming services and content providers will be severely damaged.

"If these rules are repealed, your ISP will be able to charge you more to access certain content. Those with more money will get faster service, or be able to access more of the Competition among new streaming services and content providers will be severely damaged. And we, the consumers, will pay for it," she said.

Jayapal said, "The large corporations will have a freehand to charge discriminatory rates to benefit themselves, and limit the free speech and access of their consumers."

Pai's proposal to dismantle is scheduled to come out to vote before the FCC on December 14.

This is expected to pass as the Republicans have five votes as against three from the Democratic Party.

First Published: Tue, November 28 2017. 15:30 IST
RECOMMENDED FOR YOU