Monday, April 17, 2017

Small Town Values Shape Ajit Pai's Views

Ajit Pai doesn't come across as the sort of guy who'd be crossing swords with Silicon Valley.

Question him about controversial topics and his answers come quickly, but always tempered by a Midwestern sincerity. According to CNBC, among the current crop of communication industry regulators, he was the first on Twitter.

But yes, Pai is a controversial figure in the tech world. President Donald Trump appointed him chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), and one of his first moves was to roll back regulations that would have prevented broadband providers from using your Internet browsing history to sell you advertising. In its latest podcast episode, the podcast Fortt Knox asked him about that – and more.

Here's some of what he said in the interview:

Pai is the son of two doctors, and recalls growing up in rural Kansas, where his dad sometimes would have to drive more than an hour to see patients. He said that aspect of his background – being disconnected from big-city and suburban conveniences – influences the way he looks at his role shaping policy.

"It's the fundamental driver of the policies that I'm trying to promote at the FCC, because I've seen for myself in my own childhood, and as a commissioner having traveled around the country from Alaska to Mississippi, that there are some big gaps in America in terms of connectivity," he says.

The first policy priority he listed on his FCC bio is the expansion of broadband, including to rural areas. That might even help doctors to see more patients digitally when they don't specifically need a house call.

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