Sweeping Changes at the FCC?

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According to many sources, Republicans are expecting major policy changes at the Federal Communications Commission under new Chairman Ajit Pai. They are very hopeful that many rules and regulations enacted under former Chairman Tom Wheeler – an Obama appointee – will be changed or modified under the newly Trump-appointed Chairman.

Pai, of course, fought against Wheeler’s Open Internet Order, with its reclassification of internet service providers as telecommunications carriers. In classic Democrat fashion, the order subjected ISPs to heavier overall government regulation, while the FCC also usurped jurisdiction over issues such as privacy from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

In support of rolling back the net neutrality order, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) has said she thinks the industry would like certainty on the issue. She has opined that “everyone would like to see the FCC back in their correct lanes. FTC should have jurisdiction for privacy.”

Realizing that changing some of the more odious rules promulgated by Wheeler’s FCC could involve legislative, in addition to regulatory, action – particularly so those couldn’t be undone by future FCC action under a different administration – other Congressional leaders have weighed in.

In a spirit of compromise, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) – chairmen of the Senate and House Commerce committees, respectively – have said they would not be opposed to a legislative solution with Democrats that would preserve the underlying principles of net neutrality, while reversing its telecommunications carrier reclassification.

Democrats, reacting to Pai’s appointment, have vowed to continue to fight for net neutrality, while Pai and fellow Republican Commissioner say they intend to act on the reclassification issue “as soon as possible.”

Judging by the events during the first few weeks of President Trump’s term, it will be very interesting to follow the progress of the contentious net neutrality issue.