FCC chair calls for greater oversight of tech firms ahead of congressional hearings

FCC chair calls for greater oversight of tech firms ahead of congressional hearings
© Anna Moneymaker

Ajit Pai, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is calling for greater oversight of major technology companies as Congress prepares to grill executives from Facebook and Twitter this week.

Pai said in blog post published Tuesday that he’s concerned about how much power the internet platform companies wield, combined with allegations that the industry is biased against conservatives.

“Currently, the FCC imposes strict transparency requirements on companies that operate broadband networks — how they manage their networks, performance characteristics, and the like,” the Republican chairman wrote. “Yet consumers have virtually no insight into similar business practices by tech giants.”

His statement comes ahead of Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey’s testimony before a pair of congressional committees. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg will testify alongside Dorsey at a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Wednesday.

Pai called out companies like Facebook and Google for their privacy practices and their status as gatekeepers of internet content.

The FCC doesn’t have jurisdiction to regulate those internet platforms, and Pai’s repeal of the Obama-era net neutrality rules rolled back the agency’s authority over broadband companies.

Pai has argued that it would be unfair to regulate internet providers like Comcast and Verizon and not platforms, given the vast market power and user data possessed by companies like Facebook and Google.

He wrote on Tuesday that he doesn’t believe that internet platforms should be subject to net neutrality–style regulations, instead calling for tougher transparency requirements.