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Ajit Varadaraj Pai (1973–), commonly known as Ajit Pai, is an American lawyer and the former Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). He was first appointed to the FCC's board by President Barack Obama in 2012, and was re-appointed as the Chairman by President Donald Trump in 2017. In late 2017, Pai became notorious after leading the FCC's decision to repeal 2015 regulations enforcing net neutrality. Before working for the FCC, Pai had worked as legal counsel for Verizon Communications from 2001 to 2003. In November 2020, it was announced that Ajit Pai would step down as FCC chairman and he departed the FCC in January 2021.
See, guys? Pai favors a free and open Internet!:
[Question: ]Let's talk about your proposal to rewrite the net neutrality rules. I know you're unhappy with the Title II classification, which applies utility style regulation to broadband. But I was surprised that the proposal also asks whether the "Bright Line" rules that prohibit broadband providers from slowing or blocking traffic are needed. Do you think we need rules?
Pai: Well, I haven't made any predetermined judgment, that's the entire purpose of this proceeding, to start this conversation with the American public. I've been pretty consistent about my view that I favor a free and open internet. I've said that the Clinton era approach worked really well. At the dawn of the internet age, President Clinton and a Republican Congress had a pretty fundamental choice to make. Are we going to treat this new technology as we do the water company or the electric company or Ma Bell from the 1930s? And they made a very conscious decision not to do that, because they thought consumers would be better off if they had a marketplace that could evolve without these heavy-handed regulations.
Despite the public being totally against abolishing net neutrality, Pai still claims he's representing the American people:
[Question: ]The FCC was flooded with more than 4 million comments the last time it proposed rewriting net neutrality rules. If you get a similar response this time, and it's overwhelmingly in support of keeping the Title II classification for broadband, will that change your mind on Title II? Would anything change your mind on that specific point?
Pai: As I've said, we have an open mind. That's the reason that we call it a notice of proposed rule-making. It's not a decree. The entire purpose of this process is to get public input. Then, after the record is closed, we apply what the DC Circuit calls a "substantial evidence test." We look through the record, figure out what the right course is based on facts in the record. Then we make the appropriate judgment.
The open mind that wasn't
Despite claiming to have an open mind on the issue, evidence would indicate otherwise. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman gave evidence that 2 million Americans' identities had been stolen to submit fraudulent comments against net neutrality, despite the FCC refusing to cooperate with his investigation. Congressman and former prosecutor Ted Lieu suggested Pai could be complicit with criminal misconduct without investigation of the alleged fraud:
“”Unacceptable @FCC & @AjitPaiFCC are letting criminal misconduct taint their vote on #NetNeutrality. What are they hiding? If they don't delay their vote, Congress needs to hold hearings now (or after Nov 2018) on whether @AjitPaiFCC & #FCC were complicit with criminal misconduct.
|—Ted Lieu (@tedlieu) December 14, 2017|
The vote went ahead anyway on December 14, 2017, and as expected, Pai voted to end net neutrality in a 3-2 vote. Immediately following the vote, the attorneys General of multiple states stated that they would sue the FCC:
|—Eric Schneiderman (@AGSchneiderman) December 14, 2017|
Pai had a private meeting with AT&T executives Bob Quinn and John Stankey on February 27, 2017, the topics of which were likely AT&T's opposition to net neutrality and AT&T's proposed $85 billion merger with Time Warner. The meeting may have been arranged by Trump's private lawyer, Michael Cohen, who had previously been paid $600,000 by AT&T to advise on the merger, a payment that had been approved by Quinn. Quinn was forced out of AT&T with a golden parachute, while AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson claimed that hiring Cohen was a "big mistake".
“”Cute video Ajit "Aren't I Precious?" Pai 🤮-but you are profoundly unworthy 2 wield a lightsaber-A Jedi acts selflessly for the common man-NOT lie 2 enrich giant corporations. Btw-did you pay John Williams his royalty? @AjitPaiFCCorpShill #AJediYouAreNOT
|—Mark Hamill, who plays Luke Skywalker in Star Wars|
Pai's video includes the popular song "Harlem Shake". According to the record label Mad Decent, which released the song, Daily Caller was not given permission to use "Harlem Shake". Mad Decent has issued a takedown request for copyright violation.
The video also contains the apparently hip and trendy fidget spinner, further proof that Republicans just don't get the Internet. This acts as proof that Ajit Pai ether doesn't understand net neutrality or thinks we are all idiots. In this video Ajit Pai conflates net neutrality with buying stuff when it really is about forcing internet companies to treat all information equally.
- Ajit Pai headshot, Federal Communications Commission, 30 December 2013
- Ajit Pai, Federal Communications Commission
- Kang, Cecilia, F.C.C. Repeals Net Neutrality Rules, The New York Times, 14 December 2017
- FCC Chairman Ajit Pai will step down on January, CNBC, November 30, 2020
- Reardon, Marguerite, Meet the man John Oliver just called 'doofy', CNET, 8 May 2017
- N.Y. AG says FCC got millions of fake comments on net neutrality by Kenneth Lovett (December 13, 2017, 6:53 PM) New York Daily News.
- FCC stonewalled investigation of net neutrality comment fraud, NY AG says: Net neutrality fraudsters likely impersonated "hundreds of thousands" of people. by Jon Brodkin (11/22/2017, 8:10 AM) Ars Technica.
- Unacceptable @FCC & @AjitPaiFCC are letting criminal misconduct taint their vote on #NetNeutrality. What are they hiding? If they don't delay their vote, Congress needs to hold hearings now (or after Nov 2018) on whether @AjitPaiFCC & #FCC were complicit with criminal misconduct. by Ted Lieu (11:04 PM - 12 Dec 2017) Twitter.
- The FCC just killed net neutrality: It's over by Jacob Kastrenakes (Dec 14, 2017, 1:12pm EST) The Verge.
- State attorneys general line up to sue FCC over net neutrality repeal: Net neutrality supporters will try to reinstate the rules in courts and Congress. by Jon Brodkin (12/14/2017, 2:40 PM) Ars Technica.
- Watchdog Demands Details of Private Meeting Between FCC and AT&T Executive who Hired Trump Lawyer: American Oversight Files FOIA Requests Related to February 2017 Dinner Between FCC Commissioner Pai and AT&T Executives (May 11, 2018) American Oversight.
- Cohen's $600,000 deal with AT&T specified he would advise on Time Warner merger, internal company records show by Rosalind S. Helderman, Brian Fung & Tom Hamburger (May 10, 2018) The Washington Post.
- AT&T CEO: Hiring Cohen as a consultant was a 'big mistake' by Brian Fung & Tony Romm (May 11, 2018) The Washington Post.
- Cute video Ajit "Aren't I Precious?" Pai 🤮… by Mark Hamill (2:53 AM - Dec 16, 2017) Twitter.
- 5 crazy things that happened as the FCC voted to undo its net neutrality rules (December 18, 2017) The Washington Post.
- Official statement re the use of "Harlem Shake" in Daily Caller's video of FCC Chairman Ajit Pai: neither Mad Decent nor Baauer approved this use nor do we approve of the message contained therein. We have issued a takedown will pursue further legal action if it is not removed. by Mad Descent (4:38 PM - 14 Dec 2017) Twitter.