Net Neutrality

On Wednesday, April 26, 2017, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his intent to roll back the net neutrality regulations that protect equal access to the internet - but the FCC has been anything but open and transparent in this process.

BACKGROUND

Federal net neutrality protections officially ended on June 11, 2018, but American Oversight is going to continue to investigate and request documents from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) about this decision. Even though Chairman Ajit Pai promised an open and transparent rulemaking process, news reports and documents we uncovered revealed that Pai and other FCC officials worked closely with telecom trade associations and large internet companies to develop the commission’s policies for the future of internet access.

Pai has declined to publicly discuss the details of those meetings, so American Oversight sought to gain insight via the Freedom of Information Act. Our investigation obtained Pai’s and other senior officials’ calendar entries of meetings concerning net neutrality. Pai’s calendars showed a number of previously unreported meetings with the telecommunications industry and corporations that benefited from the dismantling of net neutrality, including Cisco, AT&T, and Oracle.

American Oversight also uncovered emails showing the FCC pushed a phony story about a “cyber attack” on the online comment system the FCC used to solicit comments about net neutrality. Several U.S. senators have demanded that Pai explain what really happened with the comments solicitation process, and we’re still asking the FCC to provide additional details in response to our FOIA request.

Despite the termination of net neutrality at the federal level, states such as California and Maine have since implemented their own policies — policies that are increasingly under attack by the Trump administration. In February 2020, the White House released the Economic Report of the President, which claimed that the decision to end net neutrality would eventually increase incomes and “consumer welfare by almost $40 billion per year.” Vice reported that several experts had concluded that “the study is one of the most misleading government tech policy reports they’d ever seen.”  

The public has a right to know the full story about the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality protections. The documents we’ve uncovered so far are posted below, and we’ll continue to update this investigation as we learn more.

OUR REQUESTS

  • Records relating to the FCC’s management of the online comment system used to solicit input from the public regarding net neutrality;
  • Communications between FCC officials and members of Congress or White House staff concerning net neutrality policy; 
  • Calendar entries or communications reflecting meetings between Pai or his staff, and officials serving on the Trump transition team; and; 
  • FCC communications with White House personnel concerning net neutrality information in the February 2020 Economic Report of the President. 

Related Documents

March 16, 2020

FOIA to FCC Seeking Communications Regarding the February 2020 Economic Report of the President

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request
March 16, 2020

FOIA to FCC Seeking Communications with the White House Office

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request
September 26, 2018

FCC Communications With AT&T

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
September 12, 2018

FCC Scheduler Emails With Outside Groups

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
May 10, 2018

FCC Online Comment System Records

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
March 23, 2018

FCC Calendars and Communications with ISPs Regarding Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
January 8, 2018

Records From FCC Regarding Network Licenses

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
August 29, 2017

FCC Communications with Congress regarding Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
August 18, 2017

FCC Communications with White House About Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
July 26, 2017

Complaint: American Oversight v. FCC – Net Neutrality Communications

Federal Communications Commission
Litigation
July 7, 2017

FOIA Request to FCC Information about ECFS and Management of High Volume of Comments

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request
June 28, 2017

FCC Response Communications Between Ajit Pai and Trump Transition

Federal Communications Commission
Agency Record
May 11, 2017

FOIA Request to FCC Communications With White House About Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request
May 11, 2017

FOIA Request to FCC Communications Between Chairman Pai and Trump Transition Team

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request
April 26, 2017

FOIA Request to FCC Seeking Communications Between FCC Media and Congress Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request
April 26, 2017

FOIA Request to FCC Seeking Calendars and Communications with ISPs About Net Neutrality

Federal Communications Commission
FOIA Request