- Ajit Pai, President Trump's Federal Communications Commission appointee, has a reputation for favoring deregulation, and Republican legislators are expecting him to focus on walking back the reclassification of internet service providers as utilities, which opened the door to heavier regulation, according to reporting done by The Hill.
- On the broader topic of net neutrality, which ushered in the reclassification, some Republican legislators have expressed being open to a compromise with Democrats that could retain certain aspects of the open internet rules.
- While legislators are looking for an indication of what stance Pai will take on reclassification, any moves on net neutrality and reclassification will not be quick, as the new chairman is likely to want to take the time to ensure his efforts are not reversed in court.
While the possibility of the FCC undoing net neutrality has been a key focus of media coverage since Trump appointed Pai as the new chairman, reclassification may be just as big a priority. If reclassification is walked back while the underlying principles of net neutrality remains in place, it would put the Federal Trade Commission back in the role of having jurisdiction over ISPs.
Pai could also be looking reconsidering some legacy regulations that may not be necessary any longer.
“One important part of Chairman Pai’s program, I believe, will be to eliminate a lot of regulations that aren’t even the high-profile ones that everyone is focusing on,” Randolph May, president of the conservative advocacy group Free State Foundation, said to The Hill.
As online consumption of content grows, these issues affect marketers because of impact on the user experience — without net neutrality there is a potential for downgraded experiences in some cases — and for oversight regarding the collection and use of customer data.
Regulatory agencies have been accused in the past of not fully grasping the internet landscape or how cutting-edge technology is shaping industry. By adopting a deregulatory approach, Pai could be looking to put the direction of the telecommunications industry back in the hands of those who are shaping it. However, privacy groups and other consumer advocates as well as some Democrats are likely to raise the alarm and insist such an approach will open consumers to more expensive, lower quality experiences, and to business playing fast and easy with sensitive data.