One day after the anniversary of the end of net neutrality, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai took shots at Silicon Valley tech giants suggesting that they are the ones controlling what consumers see online, not the internet service providers.
“The greatest threat to a free and open internet has been the unregulated Silicon Valley tech giants that do, in fact, today decide what you see and what you don’t,” Pai said. “There’s no transparency. There’s no consumer protections and I think bipartisan members of both congressional chambers have now come to that realization.”
The statement came during Wednesday’s Senate Commerce Committee hearing, where commissioners fielded questions on net neutrality, broadband mapping, and what the agency is doing to combat robocalls.
As Pai noted in his comments, tech companies like Facebook and Google remain broadly unregulated and over the past year, criticisms over the power of their algorithms and market power have mounted from members on both sides of the aisle. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) and even the White House have condemned platforms for what they perceive as anti-conservative bias and look to be making it a prominent campaign issue. Democrats like Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) have voiced deep concerns over what she sees as anti-competitive behavior in these industries, accusing them of being monopolies and calling for them to be broken up.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA), the Democratic leader of the committee, opened her questioning at today’s hearing with net neutrality, only a day after she spoke out on the Senate floor to press Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) into placing a House bill to reinstate the rules on the floor for a vote. Pai responded by noting increased fiber investment and internet speeds as a result of the agency’s net neutrality rollback, data points hotly contested by consumer advocates.