WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The head of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, said on Friday that the agency is continuing a sweeping regulatory review, keen to adapt rules to the digital age and get rid of rules that he said are barriers to business.
The review builds on the FCC’s efforts in the first 100 days of the Trump administration to dismantle several significant regulations.
Pai said the FCC is looking closely at regulatory burdens on small businesses and examining whether the costs of existing rules outweigh the benefits and vowing faster decisions on approving new innovations.
“We’re reviewing the FCC’s rules across the board and deciding which ones still make sense in the digital age,” Pai said at a speech at the American Enterprise Institute marking his recent 100-day anniversary on the job. “When the facts warrant, we will not hesitate to revise overly burdensome rules or repeal them altogether.”
Pai said the FCC will make quicker decisions on whether to approve new technologies and wants to help entrepreneurs.
“We will make a decision within one year. There will be no more waiting indefinitely for an answer,” Pai said. The FCC has revised its experimental licensing program and made it easier for inventors to register proposed new experiments, he added.
Pai said he is focused on helping low-income and rural Americans get access to high-speed internet and “modernizing our rules and removing unnecessary regulatory barriers, promoting innovation, protecting consumers and public safety, and improving agency operations.”
Pai said the FCC imposes $800 million a year in paperwork burdens on the private sector and said the total regulatory burden “is much higher.”
“The fundamental question is this: Do we want that money to be diverted to lawyers and accountants, figuring out how to comply with FCC rules? Or do we want it spent delivering American consumers better, faster, cheaper Internet access?” he said.
Pai said last month he would launch a “comprehensive review” of close to 1,000 pages of media regulations.
He also proposed a draft plan to reverse the Obama-era landmark 2015 net neutrality order that gave the commission authority to bar internet companies from blocking, throttling or giving “fast lanes” to websites.
The FCC has adopted 49 items since Pai took over the U.S. telecommunications regulatory agency and many take aim at rules enacted under Democratic former President Barack Obama.
Among those items, In April, the FCC reversed a 2016 decision that limits the number of television stations some broadcasters can buy.
Gigi Sohn, a former top aide to Pai’s predecessor at the FCC said Pai favors incumbents instead of consumers.
The FCC under Pai temporarily blocked Obama rules that would have subjected broadband providers to stricter privacy requirements than websites, giving Congress time to vote to overturn the rules.
Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler