Thanks to the rise of Donald Trump, nuances to the nation’s government that often formerly were confined to the shadows now are much more widely discussed.
One of those components to the government that’s come under fresh scrutiny is the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), as led by Ajit Pai, elevated by the president from his role as member of the Commission to serve as its chairman.
Under Pai’s leadership, the FCC has become widely perceived as little more than an arm of corporate telecommunications interests, and now, there’s a new figure who has made his opinions to that effect known.
San Jose Mayor Sam Liccardo announced on Thursday that he would be resigning from the Broadband Deployment Advisory Committee, or BDAC, a body formed by Pai last year to advance the cause of getting high speed internet to every American, no matter how rural the area is in which their home is situated.
Liccardo explained that considering the makeup of the committee, he doesn’t believe that it can actually be perceived as going to look out for the interests of cities above those of the telecommunications industry. Liccardo, of course, has a vested interest in the cause of cities, himself the leader of a city of over one million people.
In his resignation letter, Liccardo commented:
‘It has become abundantly clear that despite the good intentions of several participants, the industry-heavy makeup of BDAC will simply relegate the body to being a vehicle for advancing the interests of the telecommunications industry over those of the public.’
One of Liccardo’s examples of the corruption he says has infected the BDAC is an apparent draft plan that “included provisions to eliminate all municipal control over when, how, and whether to accept industry applications for infrastructure deployment.” That plan was apparently developed completely without actual municipal input.
Apart from this incident, Liccardo has already made a national name for himself as one of the mayors to sign onto the Chicago Climate Charter, an initiative led by Chicago Mayor and former Obama administration official Rahm Emanuel which seeks to bind cities across the world to the fundamentals of the Paris Climate Accord.
Emanuel established the Charter after the president announced his intent to withdraw the U.S. from that Accord, seeking to reassure the world that there are still American leaders willing to stand up against climate change.
As for Pai, the most controversial aspect to his leadership of the FCC thus far has no doubt been his move to repeal net neutrality, those regulations enacted towards the end of the Obama era that mandated that internet service providers treat all internet content equally. Without the provisions in place, ISPs are free to charge content providers more than before to host their content, and they’re also free to potentially pass some of those new charges onto consumers, picking and choosing what they provide at what speed.
There was massive public opposition to the FCC’s plans to repeal net neutrality, but they went ahead with their plans anyway, employing the trademark move of the Trump administration of ignoring public opinion in favor of industry interests.
The Trump administration has acted in such a manner in instances ranging from the composition of EPA advisory bodies — stacked with industry interests just like the BDAC — to the tax reform plan that the president signed into law late last year.
Featured Image via Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images for Watermark Conference for Women 2016