President Trump names Ajit Pai as next chairman of FCC
24 January 2017
President Trump has named Ajit Pai as the next chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. Pai favours deregulation and is a critic of the government's net neutrality rules.
Pai's new position would give him control over the nation's most powerful telecom and cable regulator, with a 2-to-1 Republican majority that is expected to start unwinding a number of former president Barack Obama's most significant tech policies.
Pai who grew up in Kansas, and had been a sitting Republican commissioner at the FCC, would not need to be confirmed by the senate before serving as the agency's 34th chairman. Pai is a staunch critic of Democratic efforts aimed at breaking the dominance of some of the US' biggest internet providers, including AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.
''I look forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,'' Pai said in a statement yesterday.
According to commentators, Pai's appointment broadly aligned with Trump's largely deregulatory agenda, but broke with Trump's proclivity for appointing Washington outsiders to key roles.
A former lawyer for Verizon and the justice department, Pai is well-versed in the minutiae of US' telecom law and frequently took issue with former FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, over the legality of Democratic proposals.
President Trump had opposed the Net neutrality rules, passed by the FCC on 25 February, 2015, which required internet service providers to treat all legal content equally and prohibited the unfair blocking or slowing of content.
Before his dissent on those rules, Pai said at the time, "this Order imposes intrusive government regulations that won't work to solve a problem that doesn't exist using legal authority the FCC doesn't have."
Netflix, Google and other big websites favoured net neutrality rules, while internet service providers such as cable and telecom providers Comcast and AT&T opposed it.