FCC chief touts reg rollback in 100 days speech

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Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai says the agency’s push to roll back regulations is moving full-steam ahead.

In a speech Friday to mark his first 100 days in charge of the agency, Pai touted his early actions and vowed to keep slashing rules before a friendly audience at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank.

But the chairman barely touched on his plan to eliminate the agency’s net neutrality regulation, the most controversial issue that he’s taken on during his chairmanship and the topic that drew a small group of protesters to the event.

{mosads}Pai said that the FCC is reviewing rules to determine which it should get rid of.

“As part of this review, we’re asking whether the costs of a rule outweigh the benefits,” he said. “When the facts warrant, we will not hesitate to revise overly burdensome rules or repeal them altogether. And you don’t need a weatherman to know that the wind is blowing certain FCC rules toward modification or elimination.”

He claimed the agency has taken more actions during his first 100 days as chairman than it did during the same period under the two previous agency heads.

Since taking over the helm, Pai has taken a number of controversial actions, including ending an FCC probe into mobile data plans critics said violated net neutrality and dropping companies from a program to provide broadband subsidies to low-income families. And he offered support for congressional Republicans who blocked internet privacy rules for broadband providers.

Last week, Pai announced plans to begin the process to eliminate the FCC’s net neutrality regulations, which were enacted in 2015 and generally prohibit internet service providers from blocking or promoting traffic to certain websites.

His plans prompted criticism from consumer advocates and Democrats and drew activists from the group Free Press to a protest outside the event, which had tight security.

“We won’t stop showing up where Ajit Pai does until he drops his quest to destroy Net Neutrality,” Free Press field director Mary Alice Crim said in a statement. “Pai has devoted his career to serving corporate gatekeepers that want to lock down our internet. Now he works for authoritarians and white nationalists in the Trump administration.”

Pai has argued that the rules went too far in reclassifying internet service providers as telecommunications services, which opened them up to tougher regulation from the FCC.

The FCC will vote on May 18 on whether to solicit public comments on rolling back the net neutrality protections.

“As for me, I am of course pleased that we’ve gotten off to a fast start,” Pai said in his speech.

“But I would stress that that’s all it is: just a start.”

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