Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
February 6, 2016

Will the FCC Delay Its Net Neutrality Vote?

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel

Rosenworcel (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Democratic FCC Commissioners Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn are the latest to push back against Chairman Tom Wheeler’s net neutrality proposal, with Rosenworcel calling for a delay in the planned May 15 vote on it. “I also support an open Internet,” says Rosenworcel’s written prepared speech before the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies Meeting. “So I have real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal on network neutrality — which is before the agency right now.”

Rosenworcel’s speech, which calls for delaying consideration of the proposal for at least a month, states:

His proposal has unleashed a torrent of public response. Tens of thousands of e-mails, hundreds of calls, commentary all across the Internet. We need to respect that input and we need time for that input. So while I recognize the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road.

In a blog post, Clyburn expressed concern about that public response: “There is no doubt that preserving and maintaining a free and open Internet is fundamental to the core values of our democratic society, and I have an unwavering commitment to its independence. My mind remains open as I continue to evaluate how best to promote these fundamental, core values.”

Reuters writes:  “FCC spokesman Neil Grace said Wheeler still intends to put forward his proposals for public comment next week, as planned, as part of a “robust public debate” on the Internet.”

Also on Wednesday,  Twitter, Facebook, Ebay, Microsoft, and Amazon were some of the roughly 150 companies that signed onto a letter to the FCC commissioners that stated:

According to recent news reports, the Commission intends to propose rules that would enable phone and cable Internet service providers to discriminate both technically and financially against Internet companies and to impose new tolls on them. If these reports are correct, this represents a grave threat to the Internet.

In the letter, they also called for the FCC to take “the necessary steps” to ensure the Internet “remains an open platform for speech and commerce.”

Engine Advocacy and the New America Foundation’s Open Technology Institute were organizers of the letter.

That comes just a couple days after Mozilla proposed what is calls a “new path forward” on net neutrality.

Jon Brodkin at Ars Technica describes the proposal:

The FCC doesn’t have to reclassify the Internet access ISPs offer consumers as a telecommunications service subject to common carrier regulations under Title II of the Communications Act, Mozilla says. Instead, the FCC should target the service ISPs offer to edge providers like Netflix and Dropbox, who need to send their bits over ISP networks to reach their customers. Classifying the ISP/edge provider relationship as a common carrier service will be a little cleaner since the FCC wouldn’t have to undo several decade-old orders that classified broadband as an “information” service rather than telecommunications, Mozilla argues.

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