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November 22, 2016

Trump Chooses Net Neutrality Opponents to Supervise FCC Transition

Jeff Eisenach, managing director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute.

Net neutrality could be in  for a bumpy ride.

President-elect Donald Trump has named two known Net neutrality nay sayers to his transition team for the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Economist Jeff Eisenach and former Sprint lobbyist Mark Jamison will oversee hiring and policy for the federal telecommunications agency.

Mark Jamison

Mark Jamison

Eisenach is the managing director of the Center for Internet, Communications, and Technology Policy at the American Enterprise Institute. He has been a paid consultant for Verizon Wireless also was part of the FCC transition team under George W. Bush.  Jamison, a former lobbyist for Sprint, heads the Public Utility Research Center at the University of Florida.

It is widely believed Trump intends to abolish Net neutrality, a tough broadband regulation plan championed by President Barack Obama and a concept that, ultimately, is supported more by Democrats than by Republicans. Outgoing FCC chairman Tom Wheeler, a Democrat, was a strong advocate for Net neutrality as well.

Under Net neutrality, blocking and throttling are major no-nos as is paid prioritization. This means Internet service companies cannot implement “fast lanes” for streaming video providers willing to fork over enough cash to give their content a leg up from their competition.

Back in 2014, Eisenach penned a blog post condemning Net neutrality, calling it “one more government-mandated rip-off.”

“Despite what you may have heard, net neutrality is not about protecting consumers from rapacious Internet Service Providers (ISPs),” he wrote. “It would not make broadband more available in rural America, or lower prices for small businesses. And it has nothing to do with protecting free speech or dissenting voices.  Net neutrality is crony capitalism pure and simple – an effort by one group of private interests to enrich itself at the expense of another group by using the power of the state.”

Eisenach also argued that providers such as Netflix need prioritization if their services are going to work properly.

Jamison, meanwhile, criticized Wheeler, himself, saying there has been a “lack of effective leadership” at the FCC.

“Politicization, the decline of analytical work, and lack of transparency have plagued the agency,” Jamison wrote in a blog post. “Perhaps the most challenging job for the new chairman will be rebuilding the agency’s credibility, pushing back the political opportunists, and mending the commission’s internal divisions. Fortunately, previous chairmen have provided some lessons on how to do this.”

While Trump has not made public his plans for Net neutrality, it is likely January will bring about change both for the new rules and the FCC in general, especially with both Congress and the Senate being dominated by Republicans.


Jennifer Cowan is the Managing Editor for SiteProNews.