With any incoming president interest swirls around cabinet nominees and appointees, many set precedent for the departments, perhaps none more so than Ajit Pai, Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission. An advocate for deregulation of the FCC and free market ideals, Pai has an unique opportunity to shape our world into something vastly new and different.
Born in 1973, Pai graduated from Havard with a BA in Social Studies in 1994 and a J.D. from the University of Chicago in 1997. After which he clerked for the US District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana and then working for the Department of Justice Anti-Trust Division where he specialized in mergers and acquisitions. After which he served as an associate general counsel for Verizon where he dealt with competition matters, regulatory issues, and counseling of business units on broadband initiatives. From there he served on several subcommittees, until 2007 when he was appointed to work for the general counsel ultimately serving as Deputy General Counsel. In 2011 he was nominated and unanimously confirmed for the republican party position on the FCC and served until 2016.
Pai’s controversial stances on net neutrality stem from his view that they are an overly conservative reading of the laws of the responsibilities held by the FCC, claiming that regulations may lead the FCC to regulating political speech. He advocates for the marketplace of ideas, stating to the Washington Examiner “I think it’s dangerous, frankly, that we don’t see more often people espousing the First Amendment view that we should have a robust marketplace of ideas where everybody should be willing and able to participate.“ While it will take time for his tenure to have an effect on regulations, he will definitely speed up the pace of work, from a 2012 speech at Carnegie Mellon “we need to start taking our other statutory and internal deadlines more seriously” and “The FCC should be as nimble as the industry we oversee”. From corporate mergers to changing how radio spectrum is portioned out, changes will be coming. In the speech Pai shared his view of a different FCC, where the free market is utilized to bring about change and regulations are used to increase competition. The next 4 years will be written by free market ideals and a furious pace of work, leading to an impact that will hopefully provide better choice and coverage for consumers.
Pai’s presence as FCC Chairman will leave a lasting change on the history of the committee, some changes will be a step in the right directions, others maybe missteps, but all of them will have the possibility of changing how you interact with the rest of the world.