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Trump's reported FCC chairman signals end to net neutrality

President Donald Trump could name Ajit Pai to lead the Federal Communications Commission as early as Friday, which means the open internet rules' days are likely numbered.

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FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai could become chairman of the agency as early as Friday.

FCC

Things aren't looking good for net neutrality, given that newly inaugurated President Donald Trump reportedly is about to name one of its biggest foes to head the Federal Communications Commission.

A Politico report citing unnamed industry sources says Trump will name current GOP FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai as chairman of the agency, possibly as soon as Friday afternoon.

Pai and the Trump transition team didn't immediately respond to requests for comment and confirmation.

Pai, a telecom law expert who was appointed by President Barack Obama and has served the FCC for more than three years, could immediately take over the new role without Senate approval because he's already been confirmed to serve at the FCC, Politico said. He would replace outgoing Chairman Tom Wheeler, a staunch defender of net neutrality.

Net neutrality is the principle that all traffic on the internet should be treated equally, regardless of whether you're checking Facebook, posting pictures to Instagram or streaming movies from Netflix or Amazon. This means your internet service provider -- whether that's a broadband company like Comcast or a wireless carrier like AT&T or Verizon -- can't block or slow down your access to that content, or force companies like Netflix to pay additional fees to deliver their content to you faster. It also means these providers can't favor their own content and services over what their competitors offer.

Pai and Commissioner Mike O'Rielly have already indicated they want to dismantle those rules. And Trump's transition team was full of net neutrality critics.

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