Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Argues for National Broadband Regulation

Marguerite Reardon, CNet:

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai worries a patchwork of local and state regulations on internet technologies could hurt the competitiveness of the US in the tech sector. 

Speaking at the WSJ Tech Live conference in Laguna Beach, California, on Monday, Pai made the case for harmonizing regulation among federal and state and local governments. He said that entrepreneurs and innovators not only need to consider the complexities of federal regulation, but they must also navigate regulations imposed by each of the 50 state governments, hundreds of local municipalities, as well as the more than 500 federally recognized native American tribes, which all want to take “a bite of the regulatory apple.” 

He argued that “while that federalist system has served us very well” up to this point in our nation’s history, it’s time for Congress to consider “whether or not we can still maintain a multilayer regulatory system.” He said allowing states and local governments to pass their own laws regulating internet services, which inherently cross state lines, creates market uncertainty.

This follows a court decision earlier this month which upheld Pai’s undoing of Obama-era net neutrality regulations, but which allowed states to set their own policy.

It also happens to be something Pai said just a week after the New York Times published an op-ed — written by a lobbyist for Facebook and Google — arguing for a national privacy law instead of state-level laws. Later last week, Sen. Ron Wyden introduced a national privacy bill — which, incidentally, the aforementioned lobbyist’s organization has not publicly addressed.

In both cases, regulation at the national level would be more efficient than state laws, and it would set expectations of behaviour across the United States. But Pai spearheaded the dismantling of widely-supported FCC policies in favour of an anti-regulatory environment. He has only himself to blame.