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Net Neutrality Advocates Blast Trump’s New FCC Boss Ajit Pai

Open internet activists fear Pai will reverse crucial free speech protections.

Sam Gustin

Sam Gustin

Not so fast Ajit.

Public interest groups, political organizers and free speech advocates expressed anger and alarm on Monday about President Trump's decision to elevate Ajit Pai, a right-wing opponent of net neutrality, to lead the Federal Communications Commission.

Pai, a 44-year-old Republican and former Verizon lawyer who has served as a FCC commissioner since 2012, has repeatedly opposed the agency's recent pro-consumer free speech reforms. Last month, Pai vowed to take a "weed whacker" to the FCC's policy protecting net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible to consumers.

"Ajit Pai has been on the wrong side of just about every major issue that has come before the FCC during his tenure," Craig Aaron, President and CEO of DC-based public interest group Free Press, said in a statement. "Pai has been an effective obstructionist who has always been eager to push out what the new presidential administration might call alternative facts in defense of the corporate interests he used to represent in the private sector."

In addition to net neutrality, Pai has opposed FCC initiatives to advance broadband privacy protections, to increase competition in the cable "set-top box" market, and to make it easier for local municipalities to develop affordable, high-speed public broadband networks. He's also been a vocal booster for telecom industry consolidation—Pai actually voted  against the Charter-Time Warner Cable mergerbecause he considered the FCC's conditions  too onerous.

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