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Indian-American Ajit Pai reappointed FCC chairman in US Senate split vote

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MUMBAI: The US Senate has confirmed the nomination of Indian-American Ajit Pai as the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) chairman for the second time despite complaints that he will undermine net neutrality. Pai, whose term was to end later this year, was reappointed for a five-year term after getting a majority of 52-41, with most of the Democrats voting against him.

Pai was designated chairman by the President Donald J. Trump in January 2017. He had previously served as the commissioner at the FCC.

Pai’s regulatory philosophy is informed by a few simple principles. Rules that reflect these principles will result in more innovation, more investment, better products and services, lower prices, more job creation, and faster economic growth.

Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer accused Pai of establishing a record of favouring big corporations at the expense of consumers, innovators and small businesses. Pai, he said, 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.

He complained that internet service providers no longer have to obtain consumer consent before they sell or share sensitive personal data.

Pai, he alleged, is now 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.

Defending his work, Pai said: "Since January (2017), the FCC has focused on bridging the digital divide, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and making the FCC more open and transparent.”

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