Meet Ajit Pai: Most Hated Man on the Internet

The chair of the Federal Communications Commission ended net neutrality.

net neutrality
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai testifies before the House Appropriations Committee during a hearing on the 2019FY FCC Budget on Capitol Hill on April 26, 2018. (Alex Edelman/Getty Images)
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It is a title that no one wants, but Ajit Pai may have won it: Most reviled man on the Internet. He has been called a bumbling rube and a cunning villain. People claim he is out to destroy digital freedom. This is because the 45-year-old chair of the Federal Communications Commission, appointed by President Donald Trump, repealed Obama-era net neutrality regulations late last year despite millions of public comments begging him not to. He called his policy the Restoring Internet Freedom Order. Basically, the net neutrality regulatory framework prevents internet service providers, like giant cable companies, from manipulating traffic for discriminatory or revenue purposes, explains Wired. Defenders say that without it, companies could exert nefarious powers, like slow down Netflix in order to push subscribers to their own properties. On Dec. 14, FCC commissioners convened to consider the fate of net neutrality and they were met with demonstrators rallying outside their headquarters. But Pai seemed unfazed. The FCC’s membership is divided, writes Wired, with two seats picked by the opposition’s congressional leaders. Pai and his Republican colleagues spoke in favor of the net neutrality repeal, while the two Democratic commissioner dissented.

“What is responsible for the phenomenal development of the Internet?” asked Pai at the meeting, according to Wired. “Well, it certainly wasnt heavy-handed government regulation.” The repeal passed, 3-2.

But the fight isn’t over just yet. TechCrunch reported this week that the Senate passed a bipartisan resolution disapproving of Pai’s move and calling for the restoration of net neutrality, 52-47. Supporters of net neutrality in the House are seeking to force a vote on a companion resolution as early as next week.

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