Trump names “net neutrality” foe Ajit Pai to lead the FCC

Daily News Article - January 25, 2017

Questions

1. What is the FCC? What is its role?

2. How many members does the FCC have? How are party affiliations determined?

3. Why is Ajit Pai able to take over as chairman without a confirmation vote?

4. How did Mr. Pai explain his opposition to “net neutrality” which reclassified broadband as a utility in 2015?

5. a) Who wants the government to regulate the internet through net neutrality rules?
b) Who is opposed?

6. In February 2015, Mr. Pai wrote in a commentary:

The FCC is about to get rid of a Clinton-era bipartisan agreement that the Internet should be free from intrusive government regulation. [During Bill Clinton’s administration, Democrats and Republicans agreed that the government shouldn’t regulate the internet.]

The FCC will start regulating broadband rates.

It will decree, based on a vaguely defined “Internet conduct” standard, whether companies can offer consumer-friendly service plans (such as T-Mobile’s Music Freedom program, which offers customers unlimited access to streaming music).

These Internet regulations will deter broadband deployment, depress network investment and slow broadband speeds. How do we know?:

Compare Europe, which has long had utility-style regulations, with the U.S., which has embraced a light-touch regulatory model:

Broadband speeds in the U.S., both wired and wireless, are significantly faster than those in Europe. Broadband investment in the United States is several multiples that of Europe. And broadband’s reach is much wider in the United States, despite its much lower population density.

So why is the FCC swinging the regulatory sledgehammer? It’s not to guarantee an open Internet. Nowhere in the 332-page plan – which you won’t see until after the FCC votes on it – can one find a description of systemic harms to consumers or entrepreneurs online. And small wonder, for the Internet is open today. Consumers can easily access the content of their choice. Online entrepreneurs can and do innovate freely.
(from a 2015 commentary by Ajit Pai “Internet Freedom Works”)

a) What are your thoughts on Mr. Pai’s assertions?
b) Ask a parent to read the excerpt from Pai’s commentary and answer the same question.

CHALLENGE:
Do an internet search for “Ajit Pai named FCC chairman.”
Pay attention to the headlines on this issue. Are most of the headline positive, negative or neutral? (Do they imply that Pai is a good choice to head the FCC, a bad choice, or do they just announce that Pai has been chosen?) (Do they cause you to view net neutrality favorably, unfavorably, or neither?)

FOR DISCUSSION:
Ask a parent: Do you generally support government regulation or deregulation? Please explain your answer.