Ajit Pai says broadband market too competitive for strict privacy rules

Enlarge / Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai listens during a Senate Commerce Committee hearing on Wednesday, March 8, 2017. (credit: Getty Images | Bloomberg)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai and his counterpart at the Federal Trade Commission today argued that strict privacy rules for ISPs aren't necessary in part because the broadband market is more competitive than the search engine market.

Internet users who have only one choice of high-speed home broadband providers would probably scoff at this claim. But an op-ed written by Pai and Acting FTC Chair Maureen Ohlhausen ignored the lack of competition in home Internet service, focusing only on the competitive wireless broadband market. Because of this competition, it isn't fair to impose different rules on ISPs than on websites, they wrote.

"Others argue that ISPs should be treated differently because consumers face a unique lack of choice and competition in the broadband marketplace," Pai and Ohlhausen wrote in their op-ed for The Washington Post yesterday. "But that claim doesn’t hold up to scrutiny either. For example, according to one industry analysis, Google dominates desktop search with an estimated 81 percent market share (and 96 percent of the mobile search market), whereas Verizon, the largest mobile broadband provider, holds only an estimated 35 percent of its market."

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