Content Neutrality & More with Ajit Pai

Transparency, good faith, and the role of algorithms are some of the elements that are part of the discussion of Section 230 of the 1996 Telecom Act. Intended to ensure the growth of the then-fledgling Internet, Section 230 has been in the news and courts in recent years because of concerns about the power of tech platforms to favor or even censor content. In the above interview filmed at the ACA Connects 2023 Summit, former FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai provides an overview of Section 230 and the concerns surrounding this relatively brief part of legislation that changed the course of communications.

Addressing the question of content neutrality, Pai paraphrases Supreme Court Justice Kagan in a current court case, “Why is it that the tech industry doesn’t have to absorb the costs of its decisions as everyone else does?” He calls it kind of funny that there are net neutrality advocates who have flipped their position regarding their concerns about content discrimination.

At the same time, there are valid concerns parents have about the content their children see. In this context, Pai points out that some of the regulations and laws are increasingly becoming anachronistic because of platforms that didn’t exist 30 years ago. He believes that we will begin to see some of these rules adjusted, “to recognize the reality of the digital world we live in.”

Shifting to his current role, he talks about how Searchlight Capital is investing in small cable operators and telcos to help bridge the digital divide in various parts of America. He reflects on his travels while at the FCC to help him appreciate the challenges that operators face in serving low-density, rural areas.

Interview Highlights:

00:19 – Ajit Pai provides an overview of Section 230

01:20 – Good faith efforts are important, especially for small website owners who allow comments are their respective sites.

02:19 – When does an entity go from web platform to content publisher?

03:11 – Who determines what the viewer sees; the tech platform picking content or the user’s viewing habits?

04:09 – Are we looking at tech platforms not adhering to content neutrality and is this akin to the concern that some had about ISPs discriminating based on content?

04:39 – Viodi uses the FCC’s seven-word test as the basis of its content moderation [as well as the Golden Rule]. Pai emphasizes that he will keep the interview clean.

05:42 –  Saying that he feels blessed like Forest Gump in that he has progressed from one interesting position to the next throughout his career. He talks about his current role and his company’s efforts to help existing and new providers close the digital divide.


  1. Google’s update on “inappropriate language” to be ad-friendly is found here. Clearly, their guidelines are much looser than the FCC’s rules.
  2. The above video references an interview with former Representative Greg Walden.
  3. A screenshot of the late Everett Christensen’s book, which is reviewed here, is shown in the above video.

ViodiTV coverage of the 2023 ACA Connects’ Summit courtesy of Calix.

2 responses to “Content Neutrality & More with Ajit Pai”

  1. […] Content Neutrality & More with Ajit Pai […]

  2. […] upon in the above interview.  The multi-day event included appearances by former FCC Chair, Ajit Pai,  Calix CEO, Michael Weening, and Senator Ben Ray  Luján (D-N.M.). Spellmeyer points to […]

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