The former Verizon employee, who currently chairs the United States Federal Communication Commission, has earned everybody’s ire after vowing to destroy the open internet by axing current net neutrality rules.
Appointed by former U.S. President Barack Obama in May 2012 to be a commissioner of the FCC, Ajit Pai has since transitioned to various positions before being designated as the commission’s chairman by President Donald Trump earlier this year.
His appointment would make him the first Indian American to hold the office. Throughout his tenure, he has maintained an advocacy for less FCC regulation, a view which has been observed to be quite beneficial for broadband companies rather than the general public.
Now, the Republican attorney is at the forefront of a major reversal of net neutrality protections previously set in place by the Obama administration.
Back in 2015, startups, Internet activists, and millions of supporters won strong net neutrality rules from the FCC, prohibiting internet service providers (ISPs) such as Comcast and Verizon from dictating what internet users see and do online as they are required to treat all content equally.
Trump’s FCC has been eyeing to repeal the rules since the beginning of the year. With Pai at the helm, the commission has initiated the first formal step toward a complete dismantling the net neutrality rules as early as May.
“Under my proposal, the federal government will stop micromanaging the internet,” Pai recently said in a statement.
“Instead, the F.C.C. would simply require internet service providers to be transparent about their practices so that consumers can buy the service plan that’s best for them and entrepreneurs and other small businesses can have the technical information they need to innovate.”
Technically, Pai’s proposal is seeking to reverse the Title II classification of ISPs, which gives authority to the FCC to impose strict limits on them. He intends to classify them as “information service”, thereby weakening previously placed protection.
Critics have blasted the proposal, noting that it will result in a divided internet. Companies willing to pay ISPs such as Verizon and Comcast will get faster, favored service while companies unable or unwilling to pay more will find it hard to compete. Many fear that internet service may soon be offered in tiered “bundles” in the same manner channels were grouped by cable companies.
This is a terrible idea for consumers and you know it. Please listen to the literally millions of people telling you this is an awful idea
In an interview with PBS, Pai explained that the Obama rules hinder investment to expand broadband. “My concern is that, by imposing those heavy-handed economic regulations on internet service providers big and small, we could end up disincentivizing companies from wanting to build out internet access to a lot of parts of the country in low-income, urban and rural areas.”
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