FCC chairman Tom Wheeler will step down next month

A strong proponent of net neutrality will leave as Trump takes office.

Reuters/Yuri Gripas

Next month, net neutrality will lose one of its stronger advocates -- FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has just announced his plans to step down on January 20th, 2017. Not coincidentally, that's the same day that President-elect Donald Trump is set to take office. With a new administration taking over, it's tradition for the FCC's chairman to step aside and let the incoming president present his own pick for the job.

Unfortunately, Wheeler has proven to be one of the stronger proponents of net neutrality we've seen in the government in recent years, so losing his voice will undoubtably be a setback. The FCC's Open Internet Order, passed in February of 2015, was a key piece of legislation helping to keep the internet free from evils such as paid prioritization and throttling of certain services, two things the massive telecoms are looking to as ways to milk more money out of customers and content companies alike.

But now, with Trump's administration ready to take over, these rules are under significant threat. As a president with a clear pro-business agenda, Trump doesn't seem to mind trampling on the notion of a free internet if it'll make massive companies a few more dollars. With Wheeler stepping aside, we'll now have to wait to see who Trump appoints to the open position.