Net Neutrality Opponent Ajit Pai Reportedly Tapped By Trump To Lead FCC

While nothing is yet official, word inside Washington is that President Donald Trump will assign GOP commissioner Ajit Pai to serve as Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Pai was nominated to the FCC by former President Barack Obama and was confirmed unanimously by the United States Senate in 2012. Since he has already been confirmed by the agency, he could step right into the role without approval by the Senate.

Pai met with Trump on Monday and is widely viewed as the top contender for the job based in part on his experience as a telecom law expert and comfortable demeanor in front of the camera. However, choosing Pai to be Chairman of the FCC would not be without controversy, as he is a well known opponent of the net neutrality rules that were put in place under the Obama administration.

Ajit Pai

Net neutrality is one of the most important topics of the modern era, considering our widespread reliance on the Internet. Under former Chairman Tom Wheeler, the FCC imposed a set of net neutrality rules preventing Internet service providers (ISPs) and telecoms from treating online traffic differently, ensuring a level playing field. ISPs and telecoms are currently 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. "He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine. He’s been an inveterate opponent of net neutrality, expanded broadband access for low-income families, broadband privacy, media diversity and more."

There is little doubt that Pai would seek to overturn existing net neutrality rules if he is appointed Chairman. He and fellow GOP Commissioner Mike O'Rielly stated last month that they would "seek to revisit" the rules "as soon as possible." It is also worth pointing out that Pai served as Attorney General Counsel for Verizon from 2001-2003 and spent another year representing telecom clients at Jenner & Block (2011-2012). His history could make him sympathetic to the objections of telecoms to net neutrality rules.