Among the many appointments President Donald Trump must make is the chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), which was relinquished by Tom Wheeler when President Obama left office. As his replacement, President Trump chose Ajit Pai, who is no fan of net neutrality.
Pai has already been a commissioner at the FCC for five years. He was appointed to his post by Obama, but aligns himself with the other side of the aisle.
In the lead-up to Trump’s inauguration, Pai made overtures that he’d look the other way on matters of net neutrality, pointing out that many of the rulings already in place would have to be re-examined, specifically Title II. He believes the regulations currently in place are too restrictive, and that “net neutrality” is attempting to solve a problem that doesn’t exist.
Title II addresses paid promotions. Because of Title II, for example, Verizon can’t strike a monetized deal with YouTube to prioritize its free use (i.e., not counting against a data cap) to subscribers; similarly, Comcast or Time Warner can’t offer a cable channel for free even if that network paid the company.
What’s left out is the so-called ‘last mile,’ or your relationship with a carrier/Internet service provider. It’s the loophole allowing T-Mobile to offer its ‘Binge On’ service, and how AT&T can now offer DirectTV (which it purchased last year) as a bundled incentive for customers. Neither are monetized, promoted deals for the carriers – though AT&T’s instance is dancing on the line.
— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) January 23, 2017
At least at this juncture, Pai’s attempts to suppress net neutrality wouldn’t have too much resistance internally, either. Another top commissioner, Michael O’Reilly, has similar views to Pai, and is also vowing to “revisit” Title II “as soon as possible.”
Of course, this is just the start of the new administration. Nobody outside of the FCC (and possibly the inner circle of Pai and O’Reilly) knows when this ‘revisiting’ of Title II could take place. Either way, this ‘repeal and replace’ ideology might spell doom for the free, open Internet.