Speed Reads


John Oliver sounds the warning siren on net neutrality, summoning the internet horde that saved it before

The internet is an incredible place, John Oliver said on Sunday's Last Week Tonight, after playing a duet between Taylor Swift and a goat, "and tonight we need to talk about an issue that is impacting it: net neutrality." Yes, he discussed the topic three years ago, in his fifth episode, "which got a weird amount of attention," Oliver said, but "once again, net neutrality is in trouble," because of President Trump.

"It seems that the Trump era will basically control-Z everything that happened on Obama's watch," Oliver sighed. "I genuinely would not be surprised if one night Trump went on TV just to tell us that he personally killed every turkey that Obama ever pardoned." Now, ISPs are touting their support for a "free and open internet," with some regulatory changes, but you should take their "support" with a grain of salt, Oliver said, briefly explaining Title I and II of the Communications Act of 1934 — the entertainment "equivalent of chasing an Ambien with a shot of chloroform."

ISPs like Verizon want to make net neutrality essentially voluntary, and "they now have a powerful ally," Trump's new FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, Oliver said. "The dangerous thing about Pai is that he presents himself as a fun, down-to-earth nerd," with a Twitter feed full of Big Lebowski quotes and a novelty mug he describes as "infamous." "But for all of Pai's doofy, hey-I'm-just-like-you-guys persona, there are some things about him that you should really know," he explained — like that he's a former lawyer for Verizon who despises regulation, and that some of his ideas to replace Title II are "almost laughably lax."

"So sadly, it seems once more we the people must take the matter into our own hands," Oliver said. "Because the FCC are again going to invite public comment on their website — and conveniently for them, the process is actually a lot more complicated this time than it was three years ago." To simplify things, Last Week Tonight bought the domain GoFCCYourself, which takes you to the FCC page "where all you have to do is hit 'Express' and comment, telling Ajit Pai that you specifically support strong net neutrality backed by Title II oversight of ISPs." He ended by calling for common cause between all internet subcultures — even the pro-Trump corners of 4chan and Reddit. If the F-word sprinkled throughout doesn't bother you, watch below. Peter Weber