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January 24 2017

New FCC Chairman-Designate Wants to Take "Weed Whacker" to Net Neutrality

Charlotte Hays

President Trump has designated Republican Ajit Pai, a foe of net neutrality, to be the new chairman of the e Federal Communications Commission. Mr. Pai would replace Democrat Tom Wheeler, a cheerleader for net neutrality. Wheeler stepped down on Friday.

Net neutrality is one of those Orwellian terms that sounds like the exact opposite of what it is. Neutral it is not. Net neutrality is a term for government regulation of what has been a free and thriving internet.

Under the rubric of neutrality, the federal government would reclassify the internet as a public utility and regulate it accordingly. Moreover, the feds would rely on regulations designed in the 1930s to regulate telephone companies. The government would be intimately involved in setting prices on the internet.

Mr. Pai was quoted in a Wall Street Journal opinion piece last year saying that net neutrality would provide “a roving mandate [for the federal government] to review business models and upend pricing plans that benefit consumers.” But net neutrality isn't the only issue at hand for the new FCC head.

The L.A. Times reports on the choice:

[Pai] takes the chairman’s office amid reports that Trump’s advisors want to scale back the FCC’s authority.

“We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation and job creation,” Pai said in a speech last month looking ahead to Republican control of the FCC.

Pai, whose parents immigrated to the U.S. from India, was associate general counsel of Verizon Communications Inc. from 2001-03 before working as a staffer at the U.S. Senate, the Justice Department and the FCC.

He sprinkles his speeches with pop-culture references and is adept at social media. During the net neutrality debate, he tweeted a photo of himself with the 332-page proposal and lamented that FCC rules didn’t allow him to make it public. Pai has pushed for FCC proposals to be released before commissioners vote on them.

Andrew Jay Schwartzman, a Georgetown University law professor and longtime consumer advocate, said Pai would be a “formidable opponent” for public interest groups.

“He is not only an outspoken detractor from many of the important advances we obtained under Chairman Wheeler, but he is also extremely smart and knowledgeable."

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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