The new FCC can only do so much; keeping the internet free requires legislation

Ajit Pai, the new chair of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), announced on April 26 a plan to undo the work of previous chairman Tom Wheeler’s FCC and bring back light-touch regulation to the internet. All well and good. But also insufficient. If a Democrat is elected president in 2020, then the Pai rollback of Wheeler’s net-neutrality regulations would probably be rolled back by a new FCC chaired by, say, Mignon Clyburn. And the game of ping-pong will continue. What America needs is clear, consistent, and sustainable internet policy. That can only come through legislation. We need a diligent rewriting of the 21-year-old act that guides telecom and internet policy. At the time of the law’s passage, there were just 13 million internet users in the United States. Today, there are 287 million.