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Ajit Pai to Lead FCC, Signals Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

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Ajit Pai, the senior Republican commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission (FFC) has been named to lead the agency. The move signals dramatic changes in store for net neutrality.

Pai, who has been a commissioner for four and a half years, will replace Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, as chairman. Pai has voted against net neutrality rules, saying they would lead to the internet being regulated like a utility and reduce consumer choice. Pai will likely be pro-corporation on issues such as consumer privacy, big media mergers, and reducing regulations.

Along with other Republican FCC commissioners, Pai has signaled that the FCC will revisit net neutrality regulations.

"In the months to come, we also need to remove outdated and unnecessary regulations," Pai said in a speech to the Free State Foundation in December 2016. "The regulatory underbrush at the F.C.C. is thick. We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation, and job creation."

The FCC is a five-member commission, with all members appointed by the president. No more than three members can be from the same party. The independent agency will now have a Republican majority. Pai's current five-year term ends in 2017, when he'll need to be reconfirmed by the Senate.

Republicans in Congress applauded the choice. The Washington Times quoted Rep. Darrell Issa (CA-R) as saying Pai's selection is “a welcome sign of change that shows a long-overdue turnaround at the FCC is now ensured in our new administration.”

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