Why the FCC should wait on privacy rules


Comcast, the nation's largest ISP, has invested far more in the two years following the FCC's order as the company has rolled out the next generation of cable-modem service.

Pai, a member of the FCC for since 2012, was designated as agency chairman by President Trump on January 23. Telcos offer highly competitive unlimited data plans because the last FCC chairman kept them in a competitive environment, leaving four nationwide wireless providers and a clear set of rules for them to follow. Tech companies including Google, Facebook, Netflix and Apple have thrived in an environment ruled by the principles of net neutrality, where they don't have to worry about whether they'll be able to reach their customers over the internet or whether broadband providers might slow down access to their sites, services or apps.

Pai has been a constant critic of broadband regulations imposed by the FCC during the tenure of his predecessor in the chairman's seat, Barack Obama appointee Tom Wheeler.

Worryingly, Pai said he would be "acting with humility as we regulate one of the most dynamic marketplaces history has ever known" - the sort of sentence construction that only ever comes from someone with a highly developed sense of self worth.

If she doesn't allow a vote, Pai would direct the FCC's staff to stay the data security provisions by Thursday and then push for a vote on a broader halt and reconsideration of the rules, his spokesman said.

That may sound a little extreme, but Pai's moves are already favoring the bigger media providers despite his attempts to pass them off as support for open internet.

But even if O'Rielly does cast that vote in favor, and Pai has a two-vote majority for a commission-level interim stay, the item can not be adopted unless Democratic commissioner Mignon Clyburn votes on it, for or against.

Pai, however, is an outspoken advocate of a "hands-off" approach to industry governance, and prefers giving telcos as much freedom as possible to pursue decisions based on business interests.

Pai touted his decision to end an investigation into so-called zero-rating plans, in which some mobile providers exempted some services from their data caps.

"The best evidence of the wisdom of our new approach is what happened afterward", he said.

Verizon, T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T - the four largest wireless providers in the USA - all launched new unlimited data plans in recent weeks in an apparent attempt to capitalize on the change. "Capital doesn't have to be spent in the communications sector", he said - providing no evidence that telcos have scaled back their investments.

"Chairman Pai wants people to believe that he's a champion for more open and affordable broadband", Wood said in the statement.