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Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is just weeks into the job, and has declined to comment so far on the future of former Chairman Tom Wheeler's controversial net neutrality rules.

Friday, though, the agency pulled back on a probe into free data programs from internet providers directly tied to the rules.

The details:

  • The commission dropped its probe into the offers from AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile that gave customers free data for viewing certain content.
  • They rescinded a report finding that some of those programs "may harm consumers and competition." The key sentence in the order the FCC released on Friday: "The Policy Review Report will have no legal or other effect or meaning going forward."

The bigger picture: Pai is rolling back a slate of Wheeler-era actions that, in a statement, he characterized as "last-minute" and not supported by the majority of commissioners at the time.

Counterpoint: Democrats are not happy about Pai's actions. "It is clear that net neutrality is public enemy number one for Chairman Pai, and he is starting his campaign by protecting harmful zero-rating plans," said Sen. Ed Markey, a key ally in Congress for consumer interest groups. Mignon Clyburn, the FCC's lone Democrat, said it was "disappointing to see this Chairman engage in the same actions for which he criticized the prior Chairman."

The bottom line: Internet providers can move forward with their free data offerings with fewer concerns about FCC intervention.

Go deeper

Texas House probes school library books dealing with race and sexuality

Photo: Brittany Murray/MediaNews Group/Long Beach Press-Telegram via Getty Images

Texas state Rep. Matt Krause (R), chair of the Texas House Committee on General Investigating, announced Wednesday that he's initiating a probe into schools' library books, according to a letter sent to the state's education agency and other superintendents.

Why it matters: The probe focuses on books that discuss race, sexuality, or "make students feel discomfort, guilt, anguish, or any other form of psychological distress because of their race or sex," Krause wrote in the letter.

4 hours ago - World

Iran agrees to resume Vienna nuclear talks in November

Ali Bagheri (R) with Enrique Mora in Tehran on Oct. 14. Photo: Iranian Foreign Ministry handout via Getty

Iran's new chief nuclear negotiator said following a meeting in Brussels on Wednesday that Iran would resume negotiations in Vienna before the end of November, with the exact date to be set next week.

Why it matters: The Vienna talks have been frozen since Iran's new hardline president, Ebrahim Raisi, was elected in June. This is the most direct commitment from Raisi's government to return to the negotiating table.

Dan Primack, author of Pro Rata
10 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Democrats' billionaires tax explained

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

There is now legislative language behind the push to tax American billionaires on unrealized capital gains, as Sen. Ron Wyden last night released his 107-page plan.

Why it matters: This would be a sea change in U.S. tax policy, which has only applied to realized gains (otherwise known as income).