President Donald Trump promoted and appointed Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Ajit Pai to chairman of the government agency Monday.
Pai, a lawyer, is a staunch opponent to net neutrality — a concept the Obama administration pushed throughout its tenure. Net neutrality is the principle that all Internet traffic should be treated equally, which some (like former FCC chairman and Democrat Tom Wheeler) argue gives smaller Internet Service Providers (ISPs) the same chance of succeeding in the marketplace.
“In the months to come, we also need to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations,” said Pai in a speech in December. “We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation.”
Like Pai, tech companies such as AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Qualcomm, and Intel, disapprove of net neutrality. They believe that treating all data on the Internet the same essentially makes it a public utility, which will limit competition, decrease incentives to innovate, and thus ultimately hurt the consumer. (RELATED: AT&T CEO Bashes FCC, Says Net Neutrality Rules ‘Bad For The Industry’)
AT&T, for example, was offering free services under its “DirecTV Now” feature, but the Obama administration’s FCC sent a letter to the company telling it to stop the practice since it violated net neutrality rules. The FCC asserted that AT&T cannot offer free data for its own services, while charging for data used on other video-streaming companies, namely Netflix and Hulu. (RELATED: Net Neutrality Policy Analysts Caught Red-Handed On Big Tech’s Payroll)
Pai, 44, has had a storied career thus far, working at the Department of Justice, the Senate, and Verizon, among other positions, before becoming a commissioner for the FCC in 2012, according to NPR.
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