UPDATE: President Donald Trump officially selected Ajit Pai as the chairman of the FCC, Pai confirmed Monday. On Twitter, Pai said it was a "humbling honor" and emphasized his hope to "bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans."
From broadband to broadcast, I believe in a 21st-century version of Jefferson's 2nd Inaugural: we are all Republicans, we are all Democrats.— Ajit Pai (@AjitPaiFCC) January 23, 2017
President Donald Trump has reportedly selected Ajit Pai to lead the Federal Communications Commission, according to Politico and several other sources.
Pai is currently the senior FCC Republican and has already served on the commission for three years. His FCC term actually expired last year, but FCC rules allow him to continue serving until the end of this year. If he wants to continue serving as chairman after 2017, he will need to be reconfirmed by the Senate.
The appointment was met with disappointment by Free Press President and CEO Craig Aaron, who said in a statement: "Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure. He’s never met a mega-merger he didn’t like or a public safeguard he didn’t try to undermine."
Pai has been an outspoken critic of net neutrality rules passed under the Obama administration. As FCC chairman, he will now be in a position to quickly begin dismantling those rules, if he chooses.
Though President Donald Trump has not explicitly discussed net neutrality, clues about his intentions with the policy can be found with the member's of his transition team. In November, Trump appointed Jeff Eisenach and Mark Jamison to his transition team to help oversee his telecom policy agenda. Both Eisenach and Jamison are long-time opponents of the network neutrality rules.
Net neutrality rules prevent internet providers from charging websites like Netflix and Facebook a fee to access users at faster speeds. But the outgoing FCC chair recently emphasized how net neutrality also impacts cloud service providers. Pai has a lot of experience in Washington D.C., having worked with the Department of Justice, the Senate Judiciary Committee and the FCC.
Dissolving net neutrality rules would be a benefit to internet providers, but a setback for companies that stream or transfer large amounts of content.