FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Steps Down

The controversial figure has concluded his work with the Federal Communications Commission.

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Polarizing Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai has stepped down from his post. This was a move Pai signaled back in November and would follow through on when then President-Elect Joe Biden is inaugurated.

Fans of Last Week Tonight with John Oliver may recall a 2017 episode on net neutrality that specifically targeted and dissected Pai's enthusiasm for both drinking from a novelty-sized Reese's Peanut Butter Cup mug and also an FCC proposal that would no longer classify broadband internet as a utility. Under former President Trump, the FCC proceeded with these plans to eliminate such regulations--thereby creating "fast" and "slow" lanes for internet traffic. This was just one of many examples of policies Pai shepherded through that drew massive criticism.

Vice has pointed out that Pai's FCC Twitter account no longer exists, which means Pai's impassioned efforts to attack his critics has also vanished from the internet. (Aside from what's presumably still on the digital archive Wayback Machine.) However, over on Pai's personal Twitter, he released a formal farewell message, thanking his co-workers for four years "bridging the digital device to making the agency more transparent."

Under a new regime, it's likely the FCC will take on a different course of action and tone overall. What still echoes from Pai's tenure is an argument he had with Cher, MCU actor Mark Ruffalo, former Star Trek actor George Takei, and many others in which Pai insisted that net neutrality would make the United States "more totalitarian... like North Korea." Ars Technica has a great write-up of what was just another normal day in 2017. For further examples of Pai's tone that rubbed many the wrong way--to put it diplomatically--check out this PSA from 2017 he released assuring "internet trolls" that after net neutrality "you can still ruin memes."

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