Net Neutrality Critic Ajit Pai Named New Head of FCC

Pai steps in for Democrat Tom Wheeler, who resigned on Friday

Last Updated: January 23, 2017 @ 3:17 PM

Donald Trump has appointed Ajit Pai as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, the administration announced on Monday.

Pai takes over for Tom Wheeler, who was appointed to the position by Barack Obama in November 2013. According to the Los Angeles Times, Wheeler’s term had not expired but the former chairman announced in December that he’d step down at the end of Obama’s term.

“I am deeply grateful to the President of the United States for designating me the 34th Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission,” Pai said in a statement.

“I look forward to working with the new Administration, my colleagues at the Commission, members of Congress, and the American public to bring the benefits of the digital age to all Americans,” the statement continued.

The highest-ranking Republican member of the committee, Pai has served as commissioner since May 2012. During his tenure he’s been highly critical of the net neutrality regulations enacted by the commission under Wheeler’s tenure.

Passed by a vote of 3-2, The Open Internet Rule, often referred to as net neutrality, gives the FCC authority to enact rules that will help keep the Internet a free and open entity.

The regulations aim to ensure that all the Internet content you want to access, everything from streaming video to audio, will be treated equally by service providers. The FCC feared that competitor ISPs could slow down content provided by rivals.

“We need to fire up the weed whacker and remove those rules that are holding back investment, innovation and job creation,” Pai said in a speech last month.