Net Neutrality Critic Ajit Pai Expected To Head FCC

Donald Trump will elevate Republican Ajit Pai to chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Politico reports.

Pai dissented from many recent FCC decisions that were spearheaded by former Chairman Tom Wheeler, but is probably best known as a vocal critic of the net neutrality rules. Those regulations, passed in 2015, prohibit broadband providers from blocking or degrading traffic and from charging companies higher fees for prioritized delivery.

Pai has already signaled that repealing the rules will be a priority. Last month, he said the rules' "days are numbered."



"I’m optimistic that last month’s election will prove to be an inflection point -- and that during the Trump Administration, we will shift from playing defense at the FCC to going on offense," he told the anti-regulatory group Free State Foundation.

Pai also dissented from the new broadband privacy regulations, which require Internet service providers to obtain consumers' opt-in consent before drawing on their Web-surfing history to target ads. Ad industry groups as well as the cable and telecom lobby recently asked the FCC to reconsider those rules. 

In addition, he opposed the conditions the FCC placed on Charter's merger with Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks, including a seven-year prohibition on data caps.

"A fundamental tenet of our free-market economy is that you will often have to pay more to purchase more of a good or service," Pai said in a dissenting statement. "When the government forbids usage-based pricing, it is requiring Americans who use less data to subsidize those who use more data. The elderly woman on a fixed income who uses the Internet to exchange e-mail messages with her grandchildren must pay more so that an affluent family watching online HD video for many hours each day can pay less."

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