January 20 was Ajit Pai’s final day as FCC chairman, a place he held since President Trump made the appointment in January 2017. In his time on the head of the US Federal Communications Fee, Pai led the company to dismantle former chairman Tom Wheeler’s robust regulation of telecom corporations. In doing so, Pai prioritized the pursuits and income of corporations like Comcast and AT&T over on a regular basis individuals.
As performing chair Jessica Rosenworcel steps in with the Biden administration and we wait to see what’s forward, this is a recap of Pai’s worst strikes over the previous 4 years. Let’s name it a ‘what to not do’ for President Biden’s admin. (The excellent news is that Rosenworcel has already been a transparent supporter of web neutrality in her time as an FCC commissioner.)
When Pai’s FCC first launched its plans to repeal web neutrality and opened them to public remark, it obtained thousands and thousands of responses. A number of the responses which agreed with Pai have been absolutely official, nevertheless it’s arduous to think about that most people loves Comcast a lot that it went to bat for ISPs en masse. Certain sufficient, among the responses have been likely fraudulent, however the FCC principally ignored proof that many messages were attached to names of the deceased and evaluation that pointed to the overwhelming majority of the true feedback being pro-net neutrality.
Pai then fought towards New York Instances and BuzzFeed data requests on the IP addresses behind the feedback, a authorized struggle that dragged on till 2020 when a decide dominated in favor of the publications.
December 17, 2017: The FCC votes to repeal web neutrality
Pai fought for the repeal of web neutrality, which lifted guidelines barring ISPs from throttling web speeds on sure web sites and companies. It was a reversal of a landmark determination in 2015 to categorise ISPs underneath Title II of the US Telecommunications Act, which allowed the FCC to manage suppliers as utilities. Pai argued that much less regulation would encourage extra competitors, calling the rollback, which favored companies, “Restoring Web Freedom Order,” setting a precedent for being flawed.
The adjustments went into impact in 2018, although the order was argued in courts by 2019. Particular person states selected to enact their very own laws, which Pai additionally tried to dam. A courtroom dominated that the FCC could not preemptively block state laws, and the difficulty stays in competition in the present day.
December 2017: Pai’s unhealthy Harlem Shake video
Uummm Chair of @FCC who needs to remove web neutrality in the present day seems in video with one among #pizzagate pretend information conspiracy theorists. WTF is going on?https://t.co/1l4KBZmeJ4December 14, 2017
In a bewildering transfer to advertise the repealing of web neutrality, Pai starred in a video referred to as 7 Issues You Can Nonetheless Do On The Web After Web Neutrality. The video was posted by The Each day Caller, a right-wing web site with a protracted historical past of internet hosting white supremacists (the video was even produced by the Proud Boys). This was early within the Trump presidency, when this type of factor was nonetheless stunning.
As a substitute of constructing any actual argument for deregulation within the video, Pai holds a fidget spinner and poorly imitates the Harlem Shake, a meme that was already 4 years previous in 2017. It sucked fairly arduous.
The FCC’s web site crashed arduous in spring 2017 when thousands and thousands of feedback (actual and pretend) have been posted about its impending web neutrality repeal. For months the FCC claimed the trigger was a malicious cyberattack till lastly admitting that it was only a poorly designed system crashing underneath heavy site visitors—which Pai knew before the truth was made public.
Could 2019: Pai exaggerates precise broadband growth
From the start of his tenure as chairman of the FCC, Pai’s major acknowledged purpose was to extend broadband deployment throughout the nation. Over 20 million US residents nonetheless don’t have any entry to high-speed web. That quantity hasn’t considerably shrunk since Pai took the helm, regardless of what he’d have you ever consider. In 2019, Pai needed to stroll again inaccurate figures that inflated a rise in broadband investments. Regardless of this lie, Pai nonetheless argued that deployment was progressing on a “affordable and well timed foundation,” which 20 million Individuals would possibly disagree with.
April 2020: Pai approves L-band 5G regardless of issues from NASA, Navy, and DOD
Final 12 months, Pai’s FCC approved an application by Ligado Networks to open the 1-2 gigahertz frequency vary (generally known as the L-band) to 5G networks. His approval got here after open letters from NASA, the Navy, and Department of Defense outlining attainable interferences with necessary climate and GPS tools that makes use of the identical frequency vary.
One good factor Ajit Pai did: Drink out of this silly mug
Reese’s in Items to Ajit Pai, one of many realest chuds within the sport pic.twitter.com/dNuJVD27n7January 20, 2021
Possibly the one good factor to come back out of Pai’s time on the FCC is his large Reese’s mug, which is so ridiculous somebody filed a FOIA request for Pai’s emails associated to it (as standard with Pai’s administration, the FCC stonewalled). Nonetheless, we recognize that the mug gave us the proper picture to accompany each story about Pai’s stewardship of the FCC with a giant, orange reminder of his loyalty to company pursuits.