Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats scramble to reach deal on taxes Pelosi open to scrapping key components in spending package Under pressure, Democrats cut back spending MORE (D-Ore.) on Monday accused Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai of mischaracterizing his position from nearly two decades ago to justify the agency’s repeal of net neutrality rules.
In a comment filed to the net neutrality docket at the FCC, Wyden said that Pai was being “willfully ignorant” when he cited a letter that the Oregon Democrat wrote in 1998 arguing against the reclassification of internet service providers (ISP) as telecommunications companies, which, in 2015, became the legal framework for the net neutrality rules.
“The internet and internet access service today both are wildly different than they were in 1998,” Wyden wrote in the filing, which was also posted on Medium. “Back then, large numbers of consumers were starting to take advantage of the whole internet, rather than just a walled-garden service.”
“The key difference, however, was that in 1998 consumers largely accessed the internet through third-party ISPs like AOL, or Prodigy, and those consumers used the infrastructure of the common carrier telephone system to connect to that third-party ISP,” he continued.
Pai cited Wyden’s letter in his proposal to roll back the net neutrality rules by undoing the reclassification that took place in 2015, which opened up ISPs to tougher oversight and regulation from the FCC.
The FCC’s net neutrality rules require internet service providers to treat all web traffic equally.