One of the great beauties of the internet has been the ability for creatives and developers to create new websites, applications and apps which can rival deeply entrenched and giant market competitors. Myspace and Yahoo seemed to be internet hallmarks until Facebook and Google proved that they could connect people and data much better.
However, the competitive and dynamic web and mobile software landscape we enjoy today could all be placed in jeopardy by President Trump and his selection of Ajit Pai to serve as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission.
This is because the innovation and competition posed by new and small market players has been feasible due to the principles of net neutrality: the idea that all internet traffic should be treated equally by internet service providers. This doctrine means that Comcast cannot give company A a faster connection than Company B, even if Company A is willing to pay more money for this faster connection.
Pai is a opponent of federal implementation of a net neutrality doctrine and provides no solution for state-level oversight.
Dismantling of Net Neutrality through Federal Deregulation
Harvard, U-Chicago and Verizon-trained Ajit Pai will be one of President Trump's tool in a war on an Open and Neutral Internet
Trump's expected selection of Ajit Pai signals a possible campaign to dismantle the current paradigm of an open internet, from which net neutrality derives. Pai, a Harvard College and University of Chicago Law School graduate, has worked for a FCC commissioner and has been an outspoken critic of the commission's commitment to both Net Neutrality as well as other internet consumer protection policies.
As cited by Sam Gustin of Vice Motherboard, Pai stated in a December speech his desire to roll back the power and oversight of the Federal Communications Commission. His push to restrict the power of federal regulations over state-level broadband laws means that small players and marginalized communities will no longer have an advocate on their behalf to push back against cash rich corporate lawyers who can easily affect local regulations.
Pai adheres to a position of states rights and limited federal government, allowing him to not directly attack net neutrality and an open internet. However, with limited regulations on the private sector, he in effect purposefully allows the dismantling of a neutral and open internet.
President Trump has until the end of the year to submit his renomination of Pai to the commission and his selection as the commission's chairman. Not only could Trump and Pai's deregulation place a hindrance to innovation on the web, but it can allow for big-money corporations to pick and choose losers via purposefully slower internet speeds.
Medvis Jackson is a curator at Kulchah, co-founder of #TheDigilogue and avid cricket fan. You can follow him @medvisjackson for his random thoughts. He primarily covers startup, tech and small business ecosystems and resources.