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FCC's Pai Backs Congressional Clarification on Internet Authority

FCC chairman Ajit Pai appears to be looking to Congress to come up with new "net neutrality" rules of the road, even as he begins the process of undoing the old ones.

In an interview for website Friday, Pai was asked about fellow Republican commissioner Michael O'Rielly's argument that Congress needs to "enshrine free Internet principles in law" to resolve the ongoing "political uncertainty."

Pai agreed: “I think the best solution would be for Congress to tell us what they want the rules of the road to be for the FCC and the country when it comes to the digital world," he said. 

"Part of the problem is that we are consistently looking at 1934 laws and 1996 laws then we try to shoehorn our modern marketplace to some of those paradigms that frankly we didn’t anticipate a marketplace as dynamic as the internet. I really think that Congress, ideally looking at all the opinions, and all the constituencies they can come to a consensus. Because again as Commissioner O’Rielly pointed out we don’t want the regulatory winds to keep shifting every four or eight years we want to provide some level of consistency to the marketplace so that consumers and companies alike can enjoy the digital revolution.”

Congressional Democrats were not sounding in much of a bipartisan mood this week. Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee, said he did not see the Republicans coming to the table with substantive internet protections, saying it had already "poisoned the well."

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.