AJIT PAI has been confirmed as the new president of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He was incoming president Donald Twunt's first choice for the role and a man who when first connected with the job before Christmas promised to "fire up the weed whacker" to net neutrality rules.
For those who have been living under a rock, net neutrality is the concept that every byte of data carried on the internet is created equally and that there are no "fast lanes" for customers who pay a premium.
It was a flagship policy when Obama came into office in 2009, but met stiff opposition from the FCC, leading to some high-profile court cases and a huge groundswell of support which eventually led to an agreement that secured net neutrality for all time.
Except of course nothing in politics is forever, and the Twunt administration is led by a businessman, and the idea of selling internet traffic at a premium for large consumers like Netflix (a staunch and vocal advocate of neutrality) is good business sense.
The problem is that it makes it very difficult for sole traders, start-ups and the like to get access to an even playing field. Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and the like are responsible for the bulk of internet traffic in the US now, and if they are forced to pay, and they will have to, then a new enterprise will have an even harder time in getting in on the act.
In short, fast lanes favour the big business status quo at the expense of the "little guy" that Twuntism seems to be favouring. Getting the factories humming again is only one part of getting America to work, and to ignore the cyber minnows is a naive message to the world stage. Not to mention that any major change to the fabric of the internet has global consequences.
Pai was one of the voters in the debate back then, and he, of course, voted against the net neutrality decision. Now he has the keys to the kingdom, he looks set to take America on a road of have vs have-not internet, and that's something that doesn't easily get undone later.
Of course, this is only part of the argument. For example, throttling powers would allow providers to throttle Bit Torrent to within an inch of its life, great for the Motion Picture Industry of America, but terrible for BitTorrent, a company that is finding new, legal ways to use the protocol for good.
Leaders of companies supporting net neutrality have been vocal already with Drew Houston, CEO of Dropbox amongst those to beg Twunt to act. Or rather not act.
Mr Pai is also against subsidising internet access for those on low incomes and is in favour of a scheme that could see prisoners paying up to $14 per minute for phone calls.
This kind of attack on the poor, huddled masses goes against what the founding fathers had in mind. Hence the saying "He's American as Ajit Pai".
As for Twunt, there's little doubt that he and the rest of his team are against net neutrality, with him once saying that it would "target conservative media". Of course this from a man who two years ago also tweeted in the thick of the debate that he didn't know what net neutrality actually was. µ
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