FCC Chairman Ajit Pai explains why he wants to scrap so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules

“The new head of the FCC, the Federal Communications Commission, wants to clear away regulations about who controls and polices the flow of content on the Internet,” PBS reports.

Ajit Pai, President Trump’s new FCC chairman, argues the rules are too burdensome and that they stifle innovation and competition.

William Brangham discusses the changes in oversight with Pai.

William Brangham: So, you, I understand, are not a fan of these net neutrality rules from a few years ago. What is your principal concern?

Ajit Pai: Well, I favor a free and open Internet, as I think most consumers do.

My concern is with the particular regulations that the FCC adopted two years ago. They are what is called Title II regulations developed in the 1930s to regulate the Ma Bell telephone monopoly.

And 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, for example.

And that, I think, is something that nobody would benefit from.

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Much more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote back in August 2006:

We don’t presume to know the best way to get there, but we support the concept of “Net Neutrality” especially as it pertains to preventing the idea of ISP’s blocking or otherwise impeding sites that don’t pay the ISP to ensure equal access. That said, we usually prefer the government to be hands-off wherever possible, Laissez-faire, except in cases where the free market obviously cannot adequately self-regulate (antitrust, for example). Regulations are static and the marketplace is fluid, so such regulation can often have unintended, unforeseen results down the road. We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.

And as we followed up in September 2009:

That we have the same Take over three years later should be telling. Government regulations are not a panacea, neither are the lack thereof. It’s all about striking a proper balance where innovation can thrive while abuses are prevented.

Make that “the same Take over a decade later.”

SEE ALSO:
FCC Chief Ajit Pai develops plans to roll back so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – April 7, 2017
U.S. FCC chairman wields weed whacker, takes first steps against so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 3, 2017
How so-called ‘net neutrality’ will fare under President Trump – January 26, 2017
New FCC chairman Ajit Pai vows to take a ‘weed whacker’ to so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 24, 2017
President Trump elevates Ajit Pai to FCC Chairman – January 23, 2017
Outgoing FCC chief Tom Wheeler offers final defense of so-called ‘net neutrality’ – January 13, 2017
Under President Trump, Obama ally Google may face policy setbacks, including roll back of so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – November 18, 2016
Jeb Bush on FCC and so-called ‘net neutrality’ regulation: ‘One of the craziest ideas I’ve ever heard’ – March 8, 2015
Who loves the FCC’s overreach on so-called ‘net neutrality?’ Telecom lawyers – March 5, 2015
Legal battles loom over FCC’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 26, 2015
U.S. FCC OKs so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules on party-line vote – February 26, 2015
U.S. FCC’s rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ expected to unleash slew of court challenges – February 26, 2015
EFF: ‘We are deeply concerned; FCC’s new rules include provision that sounds like a recipe for overreach’ – February 25, 2015
The U.S. FCC’s Orwellian Internet policy – February 25, 2015
Democratic FCC commissioner balks at so-called ‘net neutrality’ rules – February 24, 2015
FCC chief pressed to release proposed regulations governing so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 23, 2015
FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai: Obama’s plan a monumental shift toward government control of the Internet – February 10, 2015
Congress launches investigation as Republicans claim Obama had ‘improper influence’ over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – February 7, 2015
FCC chairman proposes to regulate ISP’s under Title II – February 4, 2015
U.S. congressional Republicans’ bill aims to head off Obama’s so-called ‘net neutrality’ plan – January 17, 2015
U.S. Congressional proposal offers Internet rules of the road – January 15, 2015
U.S. FCC says it will vote on so-called ‘net neutrality’ in February – January 3, 2015
FCC hopes its rules for so-called ‘net neutrality’ survive inevitable litigation – November 22, 2014
Obama-appointed FCC chairman distances himself from Obama on so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 12, 2014
What does so-called ‘net neutrality’ mean for Apple? – November 12, 2014
AT&T to pause fiber investment until net neutrality rules are decided – November 12, 2014
There’s no one to root for in the debate over so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. FCC plays Russian Roulette with so-called ‘net neutrality’ – November 11, 2014
U.S. House Speaker John Boehner: Republicans will continue efforts to stop misguided scheme to regulate the Internet – November 10, 2014
Tech Freedom: Obama cynically exploits confusion over Title II, misses opportunity to lead on legislative deal – November 10, 2014
Obama want FCC to regulate the Internet; Cruz calls it ‘Obamacare for the Internet’ – November 10, 2014

43 Comments

  1. “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, for example.”

    Yes, because they were doing such a bang-up job in those areas in the decade *before* two years ago. Where municipalities were tired of the crap service and tried building out their *own*, superior internet infrastructure, but the monopoly player in the area paid for laws to prevent them from doing that.

    https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2014/02/isp-lobby-has-already-won-limits-on-public-broadband-in-20-states/

    1. Excellent point! And this occurred in states dominated by the GOP. What happened to individual liberties and power to the people at the local level? More hypocrisy. More GOP pandering to big business. If localities want to build their own internet infrastructure, then get the heck out of the way.

        1. Why do you even bother typing that out? It has nothing to do with the topic at hand. Are you one of the dittoheads whose answer for every problem in their life is “Blame Obama”?

    1. You do know Obama appointed him to the FCC. Trump just bumped him up to Chair when Tom Wheeler resigned.
      Pai is the Butt Boy for AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, Cox, etc.

      How much you want to bet his next job after the FCC is as Government Relations Officer for a Telecom or Cable company.

      1. Who “appointed” him is meaningless. Only three commissioners may be members of the same political party. There’s a tradition of letting the minority party at the time pick two commissioners. Following tradition, for once, Obama simply rubberstamped Pai at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. In effect, McConnell appointed Pai.

        Again, it’s so nice to finally have an FCC Chairman who recognizes the myriad benefits of laissez-faire policies.

        1. Nice 180, Fwhatever. It would have mattered a hell of a lot if you didn’t like the guy. You couldn’t give credit to a Democratic selection or action if your life depended on it, and that is a terrible character flaw.

          1. That’s not how “appointments” to the FCC work. When a Republican President “appoints” a Democrat FCC member, he is simply rubber-stamping the Democrat recommendation.

            If you want me to give Obama “credit” for rubber-stamping McConnell’s excellent recommendation, Pai, I herby give Obama all the credit he is due, i.e. none, other than following tradition.

            1. Ah, so you’ve actually been an integral part of the appointment process, have you? Thought not.

              As someone who *was* once offered a position in the Bush (43) administration, I do know how the process works. As someone who knew and worked with Tom Wheeler (former FCC chairman) over the years, I do know how the process works.

              IT IS NOT how you describe it. For an opposition party position (the party not in the White House), typically Senate staffers come up with a list, and the White House staffers come up with a list. Then the President puts forth a name from one of those two lists as the proposed appointee.

              It’s NOT a rubber stamp. Ever.

            2. Pai has been a commissioner at the FCC since 2012, when he was appointed by then-President Obama and confirmed by the Senate. Though an Obama appointee, Pai does not share Obama’s progressive views and is by no means someone Obama would have chosen to lead the commission. Rather, there’s a tradition of letting the minority party pick two commissioners, since the majority can only legally hold three seats; in nominating Pai — at the recommendation of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican — Obama was sticking to that tradition.The Verge, Jan 23, 2017

            3. The Verge? Submitting that as your journalistic reference is laughable. Just admit you’re wrong for once. It’s not even a big point, as the larger point that Pai and Obama are not on the same ideological side is taken and accepted.

            4. Yeah, First is wrong and The Verge is wrong, too, but the random Lib with no link, just his own wrong opinion, is right. You’re just another typical know-nothing Lib.

        2. “Who “appointed” him is meaningless.”
          Everyone that was touched by Obama should be dumped and replaced. Unless you agree with the “no-longer for Freedom” RINO caucus.

      1. Typical intolerant, left-wing Fascist Dem/Lib/Prog Alinskyite trying to practice forcible suppression of opposition, but obviously woefully unprepared to do so. 🙂

        1. Typical holier-than-thou ReThugliKKKan arrogance – determined to constrict free speech that espouses any idea you don’t believe, because you prefer faith to knowledge.

    2. Higher consumer prices and more power to the entrenched ISP regional monopolies?

      There is absolutely nothing in Pai’s approach that increases competition.

      Pai, lackey for entrenched telecoms, is doing precisely the opposite. Only fools like First and botty belive that corporate wealth maximization without regulatory restraint is good for the people. As usual.

      1. ReThugliKKKans don’t really believe in competition, nor do they understand what it means – especially when it comes to structures like economies of scale.

        All they know is they want your money and “freedom” to them means freedom to lie, cheat and steal. And blame it on Jesus and Obama.

    3. Stupid – The Net was built with public money and they owe the public. Competition means letting everybody who wants to be an ISP having equal access and everybody who wants service having equal access. Your ReThugliKKKan Messiah, St Donald of Mammon has you fooled – you have selected the Beast to lead you because of your corruption and impenitence.

      Transparency kills inequality and you are so very afraid.

  2. In this matter, the MDN Takes® are incredibly clear, concise, and well reasoned.

    To the extent that the system is working, less government and less regulation is indeed the ideal. But history is full of examples where laizzez faire leads to terrible corporate abuses.

    I am not arguing with Pai’s favoring a free and open Internet. But I do not belief that a free and open internet without consumer abuses will evolve over the coming decades without reasonable oversight. Pai seems to believe that a totally hands-off approach is going to yield miracles. I project that forward and see the potential internet equivalent of environmental toxic waste sites. Corrupt people will do terrible things for power and money, and you cannot vacuum up the personal/private information once it is collected and aggregated into databases around the world. In this case, we need to be proactive regarding the development of the internet. It has already become much like a utility service, and we need to ensure that the internet properly serves U.S. citizens and protects personal privacy.

    Pai offers absolutely no evidence to support his “concern” that the proposed regulations under Title II would reduce competition and materially impact internet access in low income urban and rural areas. If you consider the historical examples of other utilities – electricity, telephone – there has been excellent geographic support. And, like modern cellphone service, the internet does not require landlines. Reasonably fast service can be provided to rural areas far more cost effectively using wireless transmission.

    So you don’t like the Obama era Net Neutrality regulations, Pai? Fine. You can scrap them if you develop something better…and soon. Otherwise, you are just pandering to the corporate establishment. Drain the swamp, my ass.

    1. The problem is that Pai is using “free and open Internet” to mean, “Businesses are ‘free and to do what the want with the Internet.’, and ‘Businesses are have open avenues to pursue revenues in any way they want, no matter how it impacts the little guy.'”

      And, just taking his statement as a literal statement, when he says that he believes in a “free and open Internet” that the FCC is going to institute rules and regulations that I can get broadband Internet access and pay nothing for it?

      He’s just using buzzwords that sound good while meaning something completely different.

      1. Also, I love how they bring up the age of Title II regulations as if that in and of itself is a reason to discard it. Then, from the same mouthhole, you hear that the constitution is a HOLY document that should be interpreted as the original authors intended and can not be questioned, despite being over twice as old.

  3. The thing that is *THE* most telling thing about MDN’s take is that MDN has called it “so-called Net Neutrality” all these years.

    MDN does not believe in enforcement of any form of real Net Neutrality except in the limited case where an ISP could demand that MDN pay the ISP (say, COMCAST) tens of thousands of dollars every month or else the ISP will stop sending MDN’s data through its system.

    There are many, many other aspects to real Net Neutrality than just an ISP setting up a protection racket (pay the fee or your data dies in our routers).

    And, with regard to MDN’s comment about monopolies and such…
    MDN, you are aware of the new, proposed ruling that if you have only one ISP providing broadband to your home or business and a second has service within 25 miles (yes, 25 miles) then the first ISP is NOT a monopoly? We’ve all heard countless stories of people and business trying to get an ISP to build out even five or ten miles and the ISP says, “Sure, we’ll build out to your home/business, but the upfront fee is $50,000 [or in some cases as much as five times that].” How is that NOT a monopoly for the first ISP?

    The current FCC is so pro big business (ISPs and carriers) and anti consumer and small to medium business as to be blatantly ridiculous.

    And, I say this as someone who has worked directly with the FCC and been the person signing as the responsible authority on many, many license submissions for over 25 years.

  4. I hate to be cynical, but it seems to me that if AT&T, Verizon, and Comcast are for it, it can’t be good for consumers. In spite of their slick advertising, I don’t see much in the way of behavior that is beneficial to me.

  5. “Heavy handed” means: “I don’t like it but have no _good_ reason why not.”

    The implication is that I don’t like it because I (or those who pay me) will make money the other way but I can’t admit this.

  6. “We sincerely hope that there are enough forces in place and/or that the balances adjust in such a manner as to keep the ‘Net as neutral as it is today.”

    Or in other words, “I hope businesses don’t try to create an uneven playing field that gives large well funded Silicon Valley companies an unfair advantage over self-starting non-Hollywood aligned small businesses.”

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