Ex FCC Chairman Pai is gone; leaves warnings about possible Chinese spying
Ajit Pai is no longer the Chairman of the FCC following the installation today of the new Biden administration. Pai got rid of Net Neutrality, the Obama-era rule that forced ISPs and wireless carriers to treat all streaming content the same. The majority of Americans want to see Net Neutrality reinstated which will probably happen under a new FCC Chairman. He did help pave the way for the merger between T-Mobile and Sprint by greenlighting the transaction after T-Mobile agreed to some conditions. And under his watch, the U.S. entered the 5G era.
According to Reuters, Pai revealed what the U.S. should be worried about over the next four years. Keeping with the party line that led the U.S. to punish Chinese manufacturer Huawei repeatedly over the last four years for its rumored ties to the Communist Chinese government, Pai warned the U.S. about Chinese espionage. He told Reuters that there is a "wide array" of concern over activities that China is said to be conducting against the U.S. such as surveillance and the "injection of malware into networks here in the United States or around the world. There are a number of bad things that can happen when insecure equipment is used to handle sensitive information." The latter part of that comment could be related to Huawei's networking equipment that is banned in the U.S. The Trump administration also warned allies not to use Huawei's networking gear to build out their 5G networks. The concern is that this equipment contains backdoors that spy on American corporations and consumers.
Former FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
In 2019, the FCC blocked State-run China Mobile from offering wireless services in the U.S. amid concern that China would be able to use such a setup to spy on America. Under Pai, the FCC voted to block rural carriers from using an FCC managed fund to pay for Huawei networking equipment. And Congress will help furnish these wireless firms with the $1.9 billion that it will cost to replace Huawei equipment used in networks run by these small wireless operators.
Pai stated, "The Chinese Communist Party has a very determined world view. They want to dominate this space and exert their will -- even beyond their own borders. That is a serious threat not just to internet freedom but to national security for us and for many of our allies." Last month, the Chinese government rejected the theory that Chinese telecom firms were a national security threat to the U.S.
It isn't clear when or even if the new Biden association plans on reversing some of the penalties placed on Huawei. Biden, of course, will have to replace Pai as FCC Chairman. One possible replacement could be current senior Democrat commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel.