Brad Fast CNBC
Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai will step down on January 20, the day President-elect Joe Biden was inaugurated, he announced on Monday.
The announcement means the FCC may reach a democratic majority sooner than it would otherwise. Pai’s term was due to expire in June 2021
Pai’s decision to step down could have significant implications for net neutrality, an issue that helped define his term as chairman. In 2017, Pie voted with colleagues from the Republican Commissioners to remove rules that prohibit ISPs from blocking or slowing traffic to certain sites and offering “higher speeds” at higher prices. Many large ISPs have not yet taken advantage of this policy change.
“It has been an honor for me to serve my entire life in the Federal Communications Commission, including as chairman of the FCC for the past four years,” Pai said in a statement. “I am grateful to President Trump for giving me the opportunity to lead the agency in 2017, to President Obama for appointing me commissioner in 2012, and to Senate Majority Leader McConnell and the Senate for confirming me twice. . Being the first Asian American president of the FCC was a special privilege. As I often say: only in America. “
Pie recently said the FCC could move forward with rule-making around President Donald Trump’s executive order targeting social media companies. He said the commission’s adviser general had determined that he had the legal authority to interpret section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, the law that protects technology platforms from liability for their users’ publications (and to remove or reduce those publications). scope). Pai’s departure makes it much less likely that significant enforcement action will be taken soon, given that the two Democratic commissioners opposed Pai’s decision.
The five-member commission may have no more than three commissioners from one party at any time under the law. The president can appoint a commission chairman outside the agency or elect one of the existing commissioners, such as Democratic Commissioners Jessica Rosenvosel and Jeffrey Stark.
Republican Commissioner Brendan Carr still has a few years in office, but the other two seats are already in the air. Trump canceled Republican nomination Mike O’Reilly for a new term in August after expressing reservations about the FCC’s authority over the section 230 executive order. Trump’s new candidate, Nathan Simington, testified before the Senate earlier this month , but at the end of the session, his nomination may take some time to reach a vote.
Senator Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Said during the hearing that he would block Simington’s nomination unless he agreed to withdraw from the provisions of section 230. Simington, an employee of the Department of Commerce, admitted that he was played a “minor role” in drafting the petition, instructing the FCC to reinterpret status on Trump’s orders.
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