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Show Notes: Let’s tear apart this Ajit Pai op-ed, shall we?

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Let’s talk about the news

ajit pai

Before every episode of The Vergecast I sit down, read through a bunch of news, and take a bunch of notes. It’s one of the most enjoyable parts of my week, and I started thinking it might be fun to do every day on the site. So, every chance I can, I’m sitting down and writing some notes on the news as though I’ll be talking about it later. Are you into this? Am I into this? I don’t know. But it’s fun to do! Give me some feedback and we’ll keep mutating this into something good.


  • FCC chairman Ajit Pai and acting FTC chairman Maureen Ohlhausen wrote an op-ed in The Washington Post entitled “No, Republicans didn’t just strip away your Internet privacy rights.”
  • This follows a very odd unbylined op-ed in The Wall Street Journal over the weekend which made many of the same points; it’s clear that these policymakers are feeling the heat over the rollback of the Obama-era ISP privacy rules.
  • (That WSJ piece also argued that this move was designed to “give an edge to Twitter,” which, major lol.)
  • But, yo, Pai’s argument is weak as hell. It starts with some nice TrumpTone — “April Fools’ Day came early last week, as professional lobbyists lit a wildfire of misinformation” — and goes on to argue that everything will be fine because ISPs will, um, keep their privacy promises.
  • Pai and and Ohlhausen also write that the idea of consumers having less choice and competition in broadband markets “doesn’t hold up to scrutiny,” because... “Google dominates desktop search with 81 percent market share... whereas Verizon the largest mobile broadband provider, holds only an estimated 35 percent of its market.”
  • This argument, bluntly, is stupid.
  • Google is winning in desktop search because people keep using Google. If they wanted to use something else, they can do so extremely easily: they could type into their browser, or, or whatever. The effort it would take is literally typing.
  • Meanwhile, Ajit Pai has two choices for wired broadband at his suburban DC home. Most Americans really only have one.
  • The entire move here is to conflate Verizon and Google. And as Ben Popper and I explored today, Verizon’s plan is to flood the internet with tons of shitty content loaded with ad tracking tech. So that’s just great.
  • Anyway, Pai and Ohlhausen also pledge to create “a comprehensive framework that will protect their privacy throughout the internet.” At this point there’s enough outrage about this so that they’re going to have to — because otherwise their legacy will be making an already-icky ad-tracked internet even worse.


  • Our engineer Frank Bi and our audio producer Andrew Marino published a fun interactive quiz — can you hear the lossless audio difference? It’s harder than it sounds.
  • Ben Popper reviewed YouTube TV, which looks great, in that it’s much better than the other streaming TV interfaces out there. Channel selection is still a little spotty, though.
  • Peter Kafka notes on Recode that these new streaming TV bundles are basically just cable bundles, which Ben pointed out as well — the actual content and experience here is pretty much just the same as cable, with a prettier interface.
  • And no one actually loves cable.
  • Still, I think YouTube TV is going to be the one to beat.