John Oliver’s Net Neutrality Rant Cripples FCC Website

by Matt Klassen on June 4, 2014

Perhaps it shouldn’t come as a surprise to realize that after years of covering the vital, yet admittedly bland, topic of Net Neutrality that really all the fight for an Open Internet needed one was 13-minute segment from a comedian on HBO. But the brilliance of Sunday’s rant from satirical newsman John Oliver came as he capped it all off by calling on all those annoying Internet trolls to flood the Federal Communications Commission’s comment section with their nasty, vitriolic, and often incoherent ramblings, to let the decision-makers in Washington know that a free and open internet is important to all…because John Oliver said so.

It was a passionate yet humorous plea from the comedian; calling on all those comment “monsters” to draw on their own unique brand of anger and poor grammar to perhaps finally do something worthwhile, urging those trolls who seem to plague all public comment sections on the Web to “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.”

Despite a relatively small viewership during the show’s initial airing on Sunday, Oliver’s rant went viral and, for once, the Internet trolls listened, flooding the FCC’s comment section with so much garbage…err…useful feedback, that the heavy traffic brought the agency’s public comment system to its knees.

Over the last few months the Net Neutrality debate has taken some rather interesting turns. In late April news was leaked that the FCC would be proposing a modified version of Net Neutrality, one that would allow tiered Internet service, fast and slow lanes on the information superhighway. Grassroots activists immediately rallied against the forthcoming decision, as did titans of the tech industry, arguing that regulation of the Internet is both vital and necessary.

The concern over paid preferential internet service is that not only will it harm competition, favouring the larger providers over the smaller, but that it defies the very nature of a free and open Internet: accessible for all, equal for all.

The Net Neutrality situation is so dire, Oliver noted, that “activists and corporations have been forced onto the same side.” An unprecedented feat that should speak volumes to just how bad Internet networks and network management will be if the FCC’s current two-tiered proposal goes through.

Of course on the other side of debate sits the cable and internet providers, titans of industry who spend billions of dollars lobbying the government to protect their interests…and they’re really interested in running the Web. What’s worse, Oliver noted, is “the guy who used to run the cable industry’s lobbying arm is now running the agency tasked with regulating it.” That would be Tom Wheeler, the current chairman of the FCC.

Now perhaps it doesn’t make much sense putting Wheeler in charge of sorting out the Net Neutrality debate and still hoping for a fair and equitable solution that preserves a free and open Internet, and you’d be right. For Oliver, “That’s the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo.” Never a wise decision.

While there’s no question that Oliver, like any satirical news personality, was really on the hunt for laughs, the truth of the matter is that he has likely done more for the Net Neutrality debate than all other news media combined, leaving me to rethink my chosen vocation.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. Follow by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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June 20, 2014 at 5:36 am

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