Schumer Statement on the Nomination of FCC Chairman, Mr. Ajit Pai

October 2, 2017

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer submitted the following statement into the Congressional record regarding the nomination of FCC Chairman, Mr. Ajit Pai: 

Mr. President, shortly the Senate will vote on the nominee to be Chairman of the FCC, Mr. Ajit Pai.

I cannot support this nominee for the office of Chairman. The FCC is tasked with the critical role of protecting consumers and promoting innovation in the telecommunications and technological fields that are becoming more and more integral to our day to day lives. However, over his time at the FCC and particularly in his tenure as Chairman so far, Mr. Pai has established a clear record of favoring big corporations at the expense of consumers, innovators, and small businesses.

He supported Congressional attempts to reverse the FCC’s 2016 broadband privacy rule, which would have prevented big cable and internet companies from profiting off of personal internet data. Now, internet service providers no longer have to obtain consumer consent before they sell or share sensitive personal data.

Most disturbingly, Chairman Pai is currently attempting to dismantle the Open Internet Order, the net neutrality rules under which millions of consumers currently have access to a free and open internet. Net neutrality has had a huge impact on everyone who uses the internet - on communities of color, on small businesses, on schools, on civic engagement and on our economy.

Net neutrality is not the only issue where I disagree with Chairman Pai’s agenda. In his first two weeks on the job, Chairman Pai stopped nine companies from providing discounted high-speed Internet to low-income individuals, and he jammed through nearly a dozen industry-backed actions, including some to begin curtailing net neutrality. The most alarming part: these clandestine moves to clip the public’s fundamental right to a free and open Internet were done without seeking public comment first.

It is no surprise, therefore, that Chairman Pai would be willing to further undermine the FCC’s protection of net neutrality, notwithstanding the views of the nearly 22 million American citizens who have commented in opposition to his net neutrality proposal.  

The Open Internet order is working well as it is and should remain undisturbed. Mr. Pai, however, seems bent on rolling back the Open Internet on behalf of a few corporate friends, rather than serving the American consumer and the American economy by keeping the current protections in place.   

For these reasons, I feel very strongly that I must oppose his nomination; I cannot support this agenda, which I believe imperils consumers and the internet itself.