The FCC commissioner appointed by President Barack Obama says the commander-in-chief’s push for "net neutrality" — which he believes will have a devastating effect on the World Wide Web — will likely become law.
"Unfortunately, it looks like the cake has been baked," Ajit Pai said Friday on "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV.
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"The president gave his direction to the FCC back in early November and low and behold the FCC majority has put together [his] plan for internet regulation — and it looks to be poised on a 3-2 vote.
"Nonetheless, I am going to keep trying to fight the good fight as best as I can and afterward working with members of Congress and the American public to see what can be done to limit the damage."
Supporters of "net neutrality" say it will prevent large service providers from making big-bucks deals that give some Web-based platforms faster and easier access.
But Pai doesn’t buy it.
"It's going to mean billions of dollars in new taxes on broadband for the first time," he said.
"It's going to mean slower speeds and less broadband options as these complex regulations get put on companies that are already having a difficult time justifying building out to rule America.
"It's going to mean a bonus for the trial lawyers who are going to be able to sue the FCC or in federal court for any sorts of real or hypothetical harms."
In addition, Pai said, the legislation will lead to less competition on the Web.
He is also concerned that the FCC is involved in the plan at all.
"Historically, all the way back to its inception in 1934, the FCC has been an independent agency and that means that people look to us to render our expert objective judgment about these complicated technical questions," Pai said.
"When you have a politician shortly after the midterm elections directing the agency to do X, Y and Z and telling us he wants us to use a particular legal theory to do it, you're in an uncharted territory, at least in my experience.
Compromising the independence of the agency is bad enough, but especially when it involves government control of the internet, that's just a dangerous thing."
Pai said the possibility of regulating blogs and content also looms.
"Free speech isn't just a constitutional right, it's also a cultural commitment. We see over the Federal Election Commission, for example, some … want to regulate things like the Drudge Report or other political speech online because they think it affects elections," he said.
"The First Amendment is not a self-executing promise and it's important for people, in elected office, administrative agencies and in the public, to make clear that free speech, especially on the Internet, has to remain protected."
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