On Monday, President Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai as head of the FCC (Federal Communications Commission). The liberal media, displeased with the President’s choice, has decided to frame Mr. Pai as one who will strangle the freedom of the internet. This assertion is simply inaccurate.
Obama’s attempts to regulate the internet last year came through the introduction of ‘net neutrality’. It expand the jurisdiction of the FCC Tile II of the 1934 Communications Act. This would categorize internet usage like a utility, similar to the way the EPA regulates water ways. The expansion would give the government the discretion to regulate access, pricing, and cite priority.
Tom Wheeler, the soon to be former head for the FCC, reinforced Obama’s efforts to categorize broadband as a utility.
“[T]he Commission proposed a set of open Internet protections and, at the same time, asked an extensive series of questions about that proposal and about alternative approaches for protecting the open Internet,” Mr. Wheeler introduction of the Open Internet Order states. “We asked about the benefits and drawbacks of different approaches, different rule formulations, and different legal theories. We asked the public to weigh in, and they responded like never before.”
The ‘alternative approaches’ would allow companies to use government authority to bypass consumer preference in the marketplace. This would affect the businesses that use the internet as a platform for their interaction with their consumers.
The Open Internet Order also states that it, “reclassifies broadband Internet access as a “telecommunications service” under Title II of the Communications Act while simultaneously foregoing utility-style, burdensome regulation that would harm investment. This modernized Title II will ensure the FCC can rely on the strongest legal foundation to preserve and protect an open Internet.”
This is a misdirect. Affirming that they aim to call the internet a utility without regulating it like one is a door to arguing for government discretion.
Telecom companies are well aware that if net neutrality regulations were created and enforced, they would be subject to competing among one another for the government’s seal of approval.
Verizon successfully fought the Open Internet Order in 2010, with Pai’s assistance.
Ajit Pai’s 2016 testimony to the Subcommittee on Privacy, Technology, and Law notes the FCC’s proposal might actively confuse consumers, who are sometimes unaware of the extent of their own privacy settings.
“After all, consumers don’t necessarily know which particular online entities can access their personal information, let alone the regulatory classification of those entities,” he stated. “But they do care that their personal information is protected by anyone and everyone who has access to it. And a one-sided regulatory push is likely to mislead consumers into thinking that federal privacy rules protect them more comprehensively than they actually do.”
President Trump has made a wise choice to nominate Ajit Pai. The struggle to keep the federal involvement limited has been an outspoken venture of Pai. He has been consistent in his opposition to net neutrality, and should be carried on with his leadership of the FCC.