ANA Welcomes the Appointment of Ajit Pai as FCC Chairman

January 24, 2017

ANA congratulates Ajit Pai for being designated by President Trump as the new Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Chairman Pai is a very thoughtful leader who understands the critical role advertising plays as a financial foundation for the online and media marketplace.

Few FCC Chairmen have come to the job better prepared, as Pai had served before being an FCC Commissioner as an FCC Deputy General Counsel, in senior positions in the Justice Department, and high staff positions on the Hill and in the private sector. As a Commissioner, Pai strongly opposed two of the sweeping rulemakings pushed through by former Chairman Wheeler – the online privacy rules imposed on ISPs and the Set-Top Box order. ANA filed comments in strong opposition to those proposals. FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly and Chairman Pai have stated forcefully that they intend to take, in Pai’s words, a “weed-whacker” to much of the Commission’s recent regulatory actions. Therefore, as they both voted against the sweeping privacy rule, it is highly likely they will respond positively to the request of ANA, the ISP’s, and other industry groups for a full reconsideration of this recent proposal.

The FCC online privacy rule created an unprecedented expansion of the Commission’s authority. Unlike the approach supported by the Digital Advertising Alliance (DAA) industry privacy self-regulation program or the FTC’s privacy enforcement efforts, the FCC privacy rule would impose an opt-in approach rather than the traditional opt-out consent for the collection of all browser and app use history data by ISP’s. This action would inappropriately sweep in a vast amount of non-sensitive data that would now require opt-in consent for collection, hurting both business and consumers. The Republican Commissioners also have stated that they would carefully reexamine the FCC’s expansion of its authority under net neutrality rules.

The FCC presently has three members – Chairman Pai, Commissioner O’Rielly, and Democratic Commissioner Mignon Clyburn – with the Republicans on the Commission immediately having a 2 to 1 working majority. President Trump now will be able to nominate two additional members – one Democrat and one Republican – to return the Commission to its full five seat capacity. ANA encourages President Trump to nominate Commissioners who understand the needs of the advertising community in protecting and fostering growth, not just for the online ecosystem, but for the U.S. economy as a whole.

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