Last Week Tonight
host John Oliver has earned something of a reputation for his commentary on net neutrality. Back in 2014, during his HBO show’s first season, Oliver gained notoriety for turning his lens to the under-publicized topic—his video (with nearly 13 million views!) incited a storm of commenting on the FCC’s page, which shut down due to the overload.
Three years later, however, with Obama’s net neutrality regulations threatened by the Trump administration (because, as Oliver suggests, Trump wants to hit “control z” on all of Obama’s actions), Oliver returned to the topic. Oliver questioned Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s Big Lebowski quoting habits, saying “quoting The Big Lebowski is fine, if it’s 1998, and you’re an actor, and you’re filming the movie The Big Lebowski, but it is completely intolerable in any other context.” (For the record, this author feels that Oliver’s critique is misplaced—The Big Lebowski is a goldmine of clever quotes suitable for any number of contexts!)
Still, Oliver’s broader critique of Pai is that he threatens to deregulate internet access, and enable service providers to selectively provide internet service to certain sites based on profit. In 2013, for instance, Verizon, T-Mobile and AT&T shut out Google Wallet from their phones in place of their own payment app, the truly unfortunately named “ISIS.”
Further, Oliver questions whether overhauling Title II (the current regulations under which cable companies are held) will even affect cable companies’ profits—Oliver cites a phone call from Verizon CFO Francis Shammo in which Shammo admitted that net neutrality will not affect his investment habits.
Oliver concludes his argument with a call to action—his team has generated gofccyourself.com, which reroutes the viewer to the “Restoring Internet Freedom” page, where viewers can express their feelings on net neutrality, assuming the page hasn’t crashed. Watch the full segment above and watch Oliver’s connected 2014 segment here.