Ajit Pai is making the FCC more transparent — but only when it suits him

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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has had a whirlwind first month, taking immediate action to scale back network neutrality, slow broadband subsidies for low-income households, and block efforts to reform the exorbitant calling rates to prisons. But in the background of all of this, Chairman Pai has also made a series of changes at the commission in the name of transparency.

He’s explored publishing FCC orders a month before they're voted on, alongside a one-page summary (instead of close to one month after they’re voted on); limited the extent to which the commission can edit orders after a vote; and given commissioners more oversight of enforcement actions (fines, mostly) that punish companies for violating FCC rules These appear to be positive developments for the public. We get more insight into what the FCC is up to, and more assurance that the commission won't try to meaningfully alter orders at the last second. Politicians and former FCC insiders seem to agree, to a point. But many also express concerns that the changes could backfire, by working in lobbyists’ favor, slowing down the commission, or putting its rulings in a legally precarious position. Some also questioned how committed Chairman Pai was to transparency, pointing out that he’s been less than forthcoming about the commission’s most controversial actions.


Ajit Pai is making the FCC more transparent — but only when it suits him