Trump’s new FTC chairman fudges on Net Neutrality

trumpuckerPresident Donald (Prince of Orange) Trump’s new Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai promised that the FCC will eliminate regulations under his leadership.

This was no real surprise, Pai was widely expected to hand over control of the US telecommunications networks back to the comms companies so they could charge what they like with a minimum amount of red tape.

He was also expected to spike net neutrality laws and allow the comms companies to charge high users such as Google extra money for having high traffic sites.

But Pai fudged on a lot of that. He prattled on about consumer protection and enforcement being important priorities for the commission—but he wouldn’t comment about whether he’ll enforce the existing net neutrality rules.

Pai has repeatedly made it clear that he opposes the current rules and wants to overturn them, he has not said whether the commission will continue to enforce all the rules while they are still in place.

Pai pointed out that he wouldn’t punish small ISPs for violations of the net neutrality order’s “enhanced transparency” rules. The FCC is finalising an order that will exempt ISPs with 250,000 or fewer subscribers from those truth-in-billing rules and will not enforce them against the small ISPs while they’re still in place.

He is refusing to say if he will enforce the core net neutrality rules that prohibit Internet providers from blocking or throttling traffic or giving priority to Web services in exchange for payment.

Pai said: “I think the issue is pretty simple. I favour a free and open Internet and I oppose Title II. That’s pretty much all I can say about that topic.”
Title II was the reclassification of Internet providers as common carriers and the related imposition of net neutrality rules. In May 2014, Pai voted against a preliminary version of the rules that did not include a Title II reclassification and were weaker than the ones ultimately approved the following year.

One think that he will be doing is finding ways to stop robocalling.

The first FCC meeting eliminated two public inspection file rules. One of the rules required TV and radio stations to maintain copies of correspondence from viewers and listeners and make them available to the public.

The other eliminated rule required cable companies to “maintain and allow public inspection of the location of a cable system’s principal headend.”.

In his press conference, Pai said this vote is just the first step toward his goal of “modernising” regulations and “removing unnecessary or counterproductive regulations.”

President Trump signed an executive order directing federal agencies to get rid of two regulations for every new regulation added, because that is really smart.

Pai said this order apparently doesn’t apply to independent agencies like the FCC, but said he still wants to remove “legacy regulations” if they’re not necessary to promote competition and the public interest.

What will be more interesting is seeing if he is going to stand up to the hugely powerful telcos or just attempt to make life easier for them.