FCC chief slams 'Hollywood celebrities' who oppose net neutrality rollback

FCC chief slams 'Hollywood celebrities' who oppose net neutrality rollback
© Greg Nash

Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday hit back at critics of his plan to roll back Obama-era net neutrality rules, singling out celebrities and tech giants.

“I’d like to cut through the hot air and the hysteria,” Pai said at an event at the conservative R Street Institute in Washington, D.C..

He went on to specifically address tweets from celebrities such as comedian and actor Kumail Nanjiani, from HBO's "Silicon Valley," actor Mark Ruffalo, and musician Cher criticizing his plans.

Pai scolded the "Hollywood celebrities, whose large online followings give them outsized influence in shaping the public debate."

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Cher had previously tweeted that Net Neutrality means Trump can Change The Internet ‼️It Will Include LESS AMERICANS NOT MORE‼️”

Pai pushed back against Cher's claims, arguing that his plan would “expand broadband networks and bring high-speed internet access to more Americans, not fewer.”

The chairman also argued that major internet companies were trying to take advantage of government regulation to dominate the internet, calling them a “much bigger actual threat to an open internet than broadband providers.”

“They might cloak their advocacy in the public interest, but the real interest of these internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the internet economy,” Pai said.

“I don’t blame them for trying. But the government shouldn’t aid and abet this effort.”

He also singled out Twitter over an episode in which it stopped Rep. Marsha BlackburnMarsha BlackburnWhat the net neutrality repeal means Dem Senate super PAC reserves million in fall TV ads Scalise throws support behind Black, Blackburn ahead of Tennessee primary MORE (R-Tenn.) from promoting a campaign tweet that touted her opposition to abortion.

"Now look: I love Twitter, and I use it all the time. But let’s not kid ourselves; when it comes to an open internet, Twitter is part of the problem," Pai said. "The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate."

Pai's remarks comes as he moves to roll back net neutrality rules, which prevent internet service providers from treating web traffic differently or slowing some content. The rules are overwhelming supported by the public, according to polls. But Republicans see the rules as onerous and argue that free markets will ensure a "free and open internet" without such regulations. 

The FCC is expected to vote in favor of scrapping the net neutrality rules on Dec. 14.