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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has reshaped media and telecom in just a few months on the job — like it or not

Pai is No. 52 on the Recode 100.

Ajit Pai either broke or saved the internet in the short time since he took over the Federal Communications Commission. It just depends on who you ask.

In the eyes of Republicans, media conglomerates and telecom giants that aspire to grow even larger, Pai’s tenure at the FCC has been liberating. Tapped by President Donald Trump in the weeks after his inauguration, Pai immediately began to ease restrictions on who can own what, while laying waste to years of regulations implemented by Democrats. That included net neutrality, or rules that require broadband providers to treat all web traffic equally.

To Pai, it’s all about boosting private-sector investment. To public-interest watchdogs and much of Silicon Valley, however, it’s the stuff of nightmares. They now fear a media, tech and telecom landscape where the largest players can run amok — stifling speech online, for example, or limiting the movies, music and other content that consumers can access.

Whatever the result, one thing is certain: It may be years after Pai has departed the FCC before companies and consumers can truly assess his chairmanship. In the meantime, Pai isn’t slowing down — and his efforts are bound to be the subject of still more legal and political wrangling to come.

This article originally appeared on

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