Senate votes Ajit Pai to head FCC for five more years
03 October 2017 | Alan Burkitt-Gray
The US senate has voted for Ajit Pai to remain as chair of the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for five years.
The senate voted 52-41 in favour of Pai, who was elevated to the chairmanship after Donald Trump’s presidential inauguration earlier this year. Pai’s term of office at the head of the US telecoms and media regulator was due to expire this year.
Pai, who is seen as wanting to unravel many of the telecoms and internet reforms put in place during Barack Obama’s presidency, thanked the senate for their vote.
He said: “Since January, the Commission has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent. With today’s vote, I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues to advance these critical priorities in the time to come.”
His confirmation was criticised by a number of Democrat senators during the debate. One, Edward Markey, said that “when it was still under Democrats’ control in 2015” the FCC had imposed “rules prohibiting ISPs from blocking or throttling traffic, or from selling speedier access to the consumer”.
On the day of the vote Pai announced the appointment of Eric Burger as CTO of the FCC. He was previously director of the Security and Software Engineering Research Center in Washington, but according to his LinkedIn profile until 2015 he was a member of the board of trustees of the Internet Society and on the advisory board of telecoms software company Sigma Systems.
Pai said: “The FCC’s work lies at the crossroads of technology and policy. That makes it vital that we have at our disposal the technological expertise to make the right policy calls for the American people. I am pleased that Eric has agreed to join our team and lend us his vast expertise. From stopping robocalls to facilitating the transition to next-generation networks, the FCC has important work to do for American consumers, and I’m grateful that we are adding such skill and experience to our team.”