The Federal Communications Commission won’t release the emails about chairman Ajit Pai’s widely disliked “Harlem Shake” video, even though there’s a Freedom of Information Act request out for those emails, as spotted by Motherboard. The emails concern the planning of the infamous Daily Caller video in December, where Pai addressed the net neutrality vote by doing the Harlem Shake while swinging a lightsaber and wearing a Santa suit.
Now, it seems the FCC doesn’t want to reveal any details about who planned this video. It’s citing the b5 exemption, an excuse used by government regulators to avoid releasing public documents. The b5 exemption applies to internal agency documents that “would be privileged in civil litigation,” but because of its vague language, each group has interpreted those words to protect several different documents.
The Freedom of Information Act request was filed by JPat Brown, executive editor at public records platform MuckRock. The FCC said it did have two pages of emails but would not release them as they would “foreseeably harm the staff’s ability to execute its functions by freely discussing relevant matters.” In other words, the FCC’s staff would find it hard to talk about stuff like Pai’s questionable video if the FOIA were successful.
Pai might have intended for the video to be a way of fitting in with internet culture and showing that the death of net neutrality wouldn’t kill off memes and fun parts of the internet, but the video didn’t come off that way to many viewers. The video has 270,000 dislikes and only 11,000 likes, at the time of writing. Back in December, Baauer, the DJ and producer behind “Harlem Shake” said he would do everything in his power to “stop this loser.” But although the video was briefly taken down in December, it’s now back on YouTube and will remain there likely for the foreseeable future.