Trump FCC Chair Pick Puts Net Neutrality in Crosshairs

Ajit Pai, named the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Donald Trump yesterday, is likely to seek changes to the organization's stance on Net Neutrality. Pai was one of two commissioners to vote against the FCC's 3-2 approval of the Open Internet Order in early 2015.

Net Neutrality, which prohibits Internet service providers from giving paid prioritization to some online content, has long been opposed by conservatives and Internet industry organizations. After the FCC's decision two years ago, Pai criticized the Open Internet Order for imposing "intrusive government regulations that won't work to solve a problem that doesn't exist using legal authority the FCC doesn't have."

With Pai now leading the FCC and Trump in the White House, Net Neutrality appears certain to come under attack. Both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have also criticized the policy; Pence in 2011 co-sponsored unsuccessful legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives that would have blocked the FCC from enacting any regulations affecting Internet services.

Pai: 'Fire Up the Weed Whacker'

In a brief statement released after he was named FCC chairman yesterday, Pai said he looked forward to bringing "the benefits of the digital age to all Americans." On his first day heading the agency, Pai today also named legal advisor Brendan Carr as the commission's new acting general counsel.

Speaking in Brussels in 2015, Carr said the FCC's Net Neutrality order represented a "dramatic turn towards heavy-handed regulation of the Internet."

Last month, Pai also took aim at the Open Internet order in a speech he gave for the conservative Free State Foundation's 10th anniversary.

"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,"...

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