John Oliver urges net neutrality supporters to tone down FCC comments

HBO comedian John Oliver on Sunday again rallied his viewers to submit pro-net neutrality comments to the Federal Communications Commission, but took a shot at those who had been using the site to launch personal attacks against the FCC's GOP chairman.

Supporters of Ajit Pai, who has kicked off proceedings to roll back Obama-era net neutrality protections, have been quick to seize on inflammatory comments filed in the past week, after Oliver urged his audience to show support for the regulations.

And on Sunday, Oliver acknowledged in a Youtube video that there were racist comments filed in support of net neutrality and had a simple message for any of his viewers who may have written them: “Stop it. Do not f---ing do that.”

“Writing racist things on the internet is not how you win the net neutrality debate,” Oliver said. “It’s how you win the presidency.”

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Some conservative commentators and media outlets have seized on the inflammatory comments.

The late-night host urged his audience to “comment in a clear, civil fashion” in support of net neutrality.

The Internet Association, a Silicon Valley trade group that supports the net neutrality rules, also condemned racist comments against Pai.

“Hateful or threatening speech in any form is counter to our mission and values,” Michael Beckerman, the group’s CEO, said in a statement. 

“The merits of net neutrality can be articulated with both passion and respect. We stand with the millions of people who advocate for a free and open internet but also strongly denounce the use of hateful or threatening language to achieve this goal."

More than 1.6 million comments have been filed on the proposal to roll back the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order. The regulations reclassified internet service providers as common carriers, shifting them to the FCC’s oversight.

It also imposed rules on internet service providers requiring them to treat all web traffic equally.

The FCC will vote on Thursday to begin the proceedings to undo the reclassification and eliminate the protections by soliciting public input on the proposal.

When the commission was first deliberating over the rules in 2014, it was flooded with a record of nearly 4 million comments — in part thanks to Oliver’s high-profile activism on the subject.

—Updated at 2:11 p.m.