Net neutrality critic Ajit Pai elevated to FCC chairman, reports say
00:44, Jan 24, 2017
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President Donald Trump's choice to head the Federal Communication's Commission is Republican Ajit Pai, according to a report by the Hill on Friday.
Chief among Pai's targets will be the net neutrality online traffic rules the FCC adopted on a partisan 3-2 vote in 2015. He recently reiterated a prediction that the commission's Open Internet Order, which established net neutrality, would be reversed or overturned in one way or another.
"Pai, who met with Trump in NY on Monday, had been seen by many as a top contender for the job given his reputation as a telecom law expert who's comfortable in front of the camera, "Politico wrote".
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Politico reports that Pai was in NY last Monday with Trump and was believed to be the easy selection to chair the FCC under the new administration. ISPs and telecoms are now not allowed to offer paid prioritization of Internet traffic, nor are they allowed to throttle certain applications and services or block lawful content. "Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure", Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron said in a statement.
Pai, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, was associate general counsel of Verizon Communications Inc. from 2001-03 before working as a staffer at the U.S. Senate, the Justice Department and the FCC. Wheeler's term had not expired but Trump gets to designate a new chairman as Republicans gain the FCC majority. He's been opposed to requiring ISPs to implement stricter privacy protections for consumers, opposed to increasing broadband benchmarks to promote higher speeds, opposed to regulating mergers, and even indicated a Republican-controlled commission might have let the Comcast-Time Warner Cable merger go through.
"[We] need to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations", he said. Commissioners from the opposing party were given more deference under previous leaders, he says, and prior leaders were willing to negotiate bipartisan solutions. That means Trump effectively gets to test out Pai for a bit before deciding whether to keep him around for much longer. He would need to be reconfirmed by the Senate this year if he were to continue serving as chairman.
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