Trump Appoints Two Anti-Net Neutrality Advocates To Oversee FCC Transition
In case you've been wondering what will happen to net neutrality under the Trump presidency, wonder no more.
On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump appointed Jeffrey Eisenach and Mark Jamison, two vocal opponents of net neutrality, to run his Federal Communications Commission (FCC) transition team. Both Eisenach and Jamison will come on as industry insiders: Eisenach is a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and has been a paid consultant for Verizon Wireless. He also worked the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) transition team under President Reagan and the FCC transition team under George W. Bush. Jamison, meanwhile, runs the Public Utility Resource Center at the University of Florida and is a former lobbyist for Sprint.
Trump had already hired Eisenach in October as an aide to help craft his telecoms policies and plans for the FCC. Monday's announcement formalizes Eisenach's role, and names him and Jamison to the "landing team" that will work directly with the current FCC administration on the transition.
Under the Obama administration, the FCC has advanced protections for net neutrality. The FCC's 2015 Open Internet Order ensured that Internet providers can't discriminate between different types of content. That means that your Internet service can't make you pay extra to get a "fast lane" to watch Netflix and relegate others to possibly unusable "slow lanes."
Internet providers have historically opposed net neutrality, while streaming services and tech companies have supported it. In 2014, prior to the passage of the Open Internet Order, Google, Facebook, Twitter and more than 100 companies wrote to the FCC to say that limiting net neutrality protections would pose a "grave threat to the Internet." Google still maintains a pro-net neutrality site today that explains the company's stance: "If Internet access providers can block some services and cut special deals that prioritize some companies' content over others, that would threaten the innovation that makes the Internet awesome."
Both Jamison and Eisenach's positions are clear. In 2014, Eisenach called net neutrality "crony capitalism pure and simple." And in a June 2016 paper, Jamison wrote, "Net neutrality is hindering the very innovations it is supposed to protect, creating undue scrutiny and threatening bans of pro-consumer services." But what remains to be seen is what, if any, regulations they will erect in its place. Jamison, for example, argued in that same article in June that the U.S. needed a do away with net neutrality but then institute a "multistakeholder process" to resolve conflict without "creating a muddled market."
The FCC and the Trump media team did not immediately respond to requests for comment, but this article will be updated if they do.
Jeffrey Eisenach, one of Trump's appointees to run his FCC transition team. (Credit: Win McNamee/Getty Images.)