Chairman Ajit Pai, before his recent re-nomination by President Trump for a second full term at the Federal Communications Commission, fired another salvo at what he views as over-regulation by the previous Democrat-controlled FCC.
By a 2-1 vote, he and fellow Republican Commissioner Michael O’ Rielly blocked a new internet privacy rule from taking effect. The rule, part of a larger set of broadband privacy rules passed under the Tom Wheeler-led Commission, would have required ISPs to take more stringent steps to protect consumers’ personal information.
Pai and Federal Trade Commission Chairwoman Maureen Ohlhausen issued a joint statement, calling for jurisdiction over broadband privacy and security measures to be returned to the FTC, “the nation’s expert agency with respect to these important subjects.”
The decision for a temporary stay, until the FCC votes on a reconsideration of the rules, brought a typical response from the lone Democrat on the current Commission, Mignon Clyburn. She opined that “If a provider simply does not protect a customer’s information and does not notify them when a breach inevitably occurs, there will be no recompense as a matter of course.”
There are currently only three FCC Commissioners – instead of five – because President Trump previously withdrew the nomination of Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel from the Senate, and has not as yet nominated a third Republican.
Trump’s withdrawal of Rosenworcel’s name elicited a not-so-veiled threat from Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), that her nomination “will determine how I and other Democrats on the committee are likely to handle all nominations, including Chairman Pai’s.”
Things should really get interesting when Pai, as is generally expected, begins to dismantle the FCC’s 2015 net neutrality order, which most Republicans and many in the industry view as over-reaching.