For fans of net neutrality—that is, the principle that network providers shouldn’t discriminate between different kinds of content when delivering services to consumers—a nightmare scenario was that Donald Trump would name a Federal Communications Commission chairman who would gut the protection for neutrality. That scenario just came to pass with the appointment of Ajit Pai.
Pai, who was named to the position of chairman on Monday by the Trump administration, has been a member of the FCC since 2012. Thus, there is plenty of evidence available when it comes to his views on net neutrality—and he doesn’t like it at all.
In a speech in December after Trump won the election, Pai said he wanted to “take a weed whacker” to the FCC’s regulations. One of the things he had his sights set on was the FCC’s Open Internet Order, which was adopted in 2015. That decision made Internet providers “common carriers,” and required them to carry data without playing favorites.
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The new FCC chairman has said that he believes net neutrality is “a solution that won’t work for a problem that doesn’t exist.” Pai has also said he hasn’t seen any evidence that consumers are disadvantaged by network providers discriminating between different content or services, and therefore such legislation isn’t necessary and harms small ISPs.
Pai voted against forcing digital service providers to beef up privacy protections. And he has spoken in favor of allowing cable and telco mergers, including the proposed Comcast-Time Warner deal in 2014, which was widely criticized before being struck down by the commission. Welcome to the Trump era of Internet regulation, everyone.