Reason Foundation presented its sixth annual Savas Award for Privatization to Federal Communications Chairman Ajit Pai tonight in recognition of his efforts advancing a free and open Internet that encourages private sector investment and innovation in broadband and mobile networks.
“Chairman Pai has helped create the environment for stronger broadband networks that are one of the major, and often unheralded, successes of the coronavirus pandemic—as privately-owned and operated data networks have kept us connected and opened up new ways for us to communicate and thrive during these difficult times,” said Reason Foundation President David Nott. “His vision of free markets continues to guide federal communications policy and his advocacy of ‘the democratization of entrepreneurship’ ensures greater and faster online access for all.”
“Thank you to David [Nott] and everybody at the Reason Foundation for this recognition. While selecting me as this year’s recipient of the Savas Award could fairly be called into question, your timing of this celebration could not be more perfect. This award was established to highlight innovative efforts to, quote, ‘provide public services through partnerships with private organizations.’ You could make a strong case that this has been the best two weeks for public-private partnerships ever,” Chairman Pai said in his remarks to Reason Foundation.
Pai, appointed as an FCC commissioner in 2012 by then-President Barack Obama and unanimously confirmed by the Senate, was named chairman of the FCC by President Donald Trump in 2017. During his tenure as chairman, Pai has removed preemptive regulations and focused on ways to support free enterprise and expand private broadband services.
The Savas Award is given annually to remarkable individuals advancing innovative and cost-effective ways to provide public services through partnerships with private organizations. Previous Savas Award recipients include Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, former governor of Indiana; Burt Rutan, aerospace engineer and X Prize winner; Success Academy Co-founder Eva Moskowitz; former Indianapolis Mayor Stephen Goldsmith; and Ambassador Frank Baxter, co-founder of Alliance for College-Ready Public Schools.
The award is named for E. S. “Steve” Savas, who pioneered the concept of privatization while working for New York City. Privatization has been central to Reason’s work for 50 years and Reason Foundation Founder Bob Poole published the first book-length treatment of municipal privatization, Cutting Back City Hall, in 1980.
Reason.com’s Nick Gillespie spoke with Pai the day before Reason Foundation awarded him the Savas Award for Privatization for his market-friendly policies, including facilitating the growth of 5G networks and ending FCC regulation of internet service providers commonly known as net neutrality. In this discussion, Pai discusses what sorts of reforms or revisions of Section 230 he supports, what he’s most proud of accomplishing at the FCC, and about the future free speech—especially online.
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