Ajit Pai (pictured) was named chairman of US regulator Federal Communications Commission (FCC), with new President Donald Trump handing power to an outspoken opponent of the country’s net neutrality laws.
Pai, who served as a commissioner at the FCC since 2012, announced on Twitter President Trump named him to lead the FCC following the departure of his predecessor Tom Wheeler on 20 January.
Pai’s appointment will heighten concerns about current net neutrality rules in the country, given the new commissioner and the Republican Party in general are known opponents of the Open Internet Order passed in 2015.
While Pai was appointed to the position of commissioner by Barack Obama, he did not share the former president’s views on net neutrality, or that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally.
Indeed, Pai previously said the neutrality problem simply does not exist, and went so far as to say the Open Internet Order would be either be reversed or overturned by a future commission when it was first passed into law.
In December, following Trump’s election, Pai wrote a letter indicating the new administration intended to “revisit” the country’s net neutrality order “as soon as possible”.
The Verge observed net neutrality is not Pai’s only bone of contention. He also voiced opposition to other recent FCC stances including restricting cable mergers and proposals regarding ISPs implementing stricter privacy protections for consumers.
Pai’s approach is generally considered to be one of free market, minimal regulation, and favouring businesses over consumers.
Major operators Verizon and AT&T, and cable operator Comcast welcomed Pai’s appointment.
In a statement, Pai said he was grateful to the new president for the appointment: “I look forward to working with the new administration, my colleagues at the commission, members of congress and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans.”