"Net neutrality" supporters are giving FCC Chairman Ajit Pai a hard time, not only in demonstrations outside of the Federal Communications Commission headquarters, but also outside of his home.
In the run-up to his agency's 2-1 vote on Thursday to start the process of dismantling Obama-era "net neutrality" regulations, Pai said protesters have not only overtaken his neighborhood in Arlington, Va., but are also taking photographs of the inside of his family's house.
Pai told journalist Tunku Varadarajan that protesters from the far-left group Popular Resistance have been passing out flyers with a picture of his face on his neighbors' front doors. They read: "Have you seen this man?"; they also state Pai's age, height and weight and explain that he is "trying to destroy net neutrality."
"They were there yesterday. I understand they'll be there today. They'll be there tomorrow and the day after. It's a hassle, especially for my wife and my two young children," Pai said Monday, according to the piece published by the Wall Street Journal late Friday.
Pai said the protesters are also violating the privacy of his own home. They "come up to our front windows and take photographs of the inside of the house. My kids are 5 and 3. It's not pleasant," he said.
The report says the activists are describing their method of picketing as "Ajit-ation."
At the center of the protest is Pai's push to undo the FCC's prior move to classify Internet service providers like AT&T and Comcast as Title II public utilities, subject to FCC control. That was done in order to impose more stringent oversight of companies, to ensure they cannot block or inhibit access to certain types of web services from different providers, or create pay-to-play fast lanes for certain content.
Pai says he believes in "light touch" regulation that would boost competition and infrastructure investment. The net neutrality roll back, which now moves to an open comment period, would hand broadband regulatory oversight back into the hands of the Federal Trade Commission.
The last FCC chairman, Democrat Tom Wheeler, along with consumer advocate groups and tech companies such as Netflix and Google that rely on mass public use of Internet bandwidth, hail the net neutrality regulations as a way to prevent service providers from blocking or throttling web content. They oppose suggestions that content providers should be allowed or obliged to pay for preferential treatment.
As the FCC held its open meeting on Thursday, dozens of organizations got together for a protest to "Save Net Neutrality" outside of the FCC headquarters in Washington, D.C. Speakers included Sens. Ed Markey, D-Mass. and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Reps. Jared Polis, D-Colo., and Barbara Lee, D-Calif., as well as former FCC commissioners.