News

NRI Ideas Summit

FCC Chairman: Net-Neutrality Supporters Saw ‘Political Advantage’ in Stirring ‘Fear’

National Review’s Charles C.W. Cooke and FCC chairman Ajit Pai (Pete Marovich)

Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai said Friday that some advocates of net neutrality saw a political advantage in fomenting fear about the policy’s end.

Pai joined Charles Cooke of National Review at the National Review Institute’s 2019 Ideas Summit to discuss how the agency’s role has changed from its founding in the 1930s to today.

“Net neutrality” is a “very seductive marketing slogan,” Pai said. But “ultimately what it means is government regulation of the Internet.”

“As to the question of why people are upset, I’ll be candid. I think it’s because a lot of people saw a political advantage in fomenting a lot of fear,” he continued, recalling the doom-and-gloom warnings of critics who warned that Pai’s rollback of Obama-era net-neutrality regulations would be the “end of the Internet as we know it.”

“Last time I checked, you can still hate-tweet your favorite FCC chairman,” he quipped.

The FCC’s repeal of the Obama-ear Open Internet Order net-neutrality rules took effect in April of last year. It was originally introduced by Pai, and passed by a vote of the FCC in December 2017.

Net neutrality imposed heavy regulations on Internet-service providers, classifying them as public utilities. Critics said that the rules choked companies such as popular streaming services by regulating how they presented content to consumers. Those pushing for the rules argued that control of the Internet should not be left to the whims of private companies.

The Internet is the “greatest free-market innovation in history,” and from 1996 to 2015 the FCC took a “light-touch, market-based approach” to regulating it, Pai said. “And look what happened. We saw small, scrappy startups become global giants like Facebook and Amazon and Netflix and Google. It’s incredible how much innovation we’ve seen over the past 20 years.”

Most Popular

Education

An Idea for Student Loans: Get Rid of Them

Here is a three-part plan for something practical the federal government could do to relieve college-loan debt. Step 1: The federal government should stop making college loans itself and cease guaranteeing any such loans. Step 2: It should prohibit educational lending by federally regulated financial institutions ... Read More
Elections

A Reckoning Is in Store for Democrats

The crisis of the Democrats is becoming more evident each week. Those of us who have been loudly predicting for years that the Russian-collusion argument would be exposed as a defamatory farce, and that the authors of it would eventually pay for it, are bemused at the fallback position of the Trump-haters: that ... Read More
White House

MoveOn.GOP?

Some of you will be familiar with a lefty, partisan Democratic organization called MoveOn, formerly MoveOn.Org. It was founded during an investigation into President Bill Clinton’s shenanigans (which were not, Democratic mythology notwithstanding, strictly sexual in nature) and argued that it was time for the ... Read More
Elections

Why ‘Stop Sanders’?

'Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?” T. S. Eliot asked. “Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?” And where is the intelligence we have lost in cleverness? Cleverness is the plague of our political classes, an influenza of the intellect. The consultants are always trying to ... Read More