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    Attorney General Andy Beshear is preparing to join his counterparts in 17 other states in suing the FCC over its repeal of Net Neutrality.

    On Dec. 14, the Republican-led commission voted 3-2 along party lines to roll back Obama-era regulations prohibiting internet service providers from privileging certain types of content they deliver over others, prompting an avalanche of public opposition. The FCC received over 21 million comments on the proposal in total.

    Photo: Andy Beshear // courtesy Kentucky Office of the Attorney General

    The crux of the attorneys’ general suit is that many comments in support of the repeal were submitted without the knowledge or consent of the people whose names appeared on them, including those of the deceased. Beshear’s office received numerous such complaints by current and former Kentuckians, according to a statement released shortly after the repeal. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who is leading the multistate effort, cites the total number of fraudulent comments at 2 million. The FCC has flatly rejected calls to delay implementation of the rollback due to fraudulent comments, as it did not take suspicious public comments, which included many duplicates and randomly generated emails, into account.

    In an NPR interview, Beshear said that an open internet is especially crucial in Kentucky, where it helps rural communities overcome their relative isolation and connect with educational and healthcare resources that are otherwise sorely lacking. He likened the FCC’s decision to giving four companies control over every road, highway and back alley in the country.

    “The FCC has found the one thing in these polarizing times that has brought us all together,” Beshear said. “It’s brought us all together against this rollback, which means it’s a really bad idea.”

    A week before the vote, about 200 protesters gathered at the Federal Building downtown, hoping to send a message to Sen. Mitch McConnell, who supports the repeal. Braving bitter cold, they voiced concerns about restricted access to information, reduced competition among telecom companies and being charged more to use everyday internet services. Many of them had come to hear a short speech by Adam Savage, former cohost of the Discovery Channel program Mythbusters. Savage, who was in town to perform the following night and heard about the protest through a friend, highlighted what many of the protesters were saying: that the FCC’s decision is the result of corporate intrusion into democracy.

    Photo: Mythbusters' Adam Savage speaks at a protest outside the Federal Building downtown. // by Eric Matthews

    “Vexatious lawsuits and anticompetitive legislation written by lobbyists, benefitting industry at the expense of the people, are already in the arsenal of the companies that want to repeal net neutrality,” Savage said. “Imagine what what’ll do if they gain complete control over exactly what information we the public get to see?”

    The FCC published the final 540-page order on Jan. 4. Barring a legal decision or congressional action, it will take effect 60 days after being entered into the federal register.

    “With the move by the FCC this week to continue with its plan, I have no choice but to join legal action to protect Kentucky families from this sweeping and harmful policy change,” Beshear said.

    Cover photo: Pexels

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