Three days before the Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote on the most significant Internet regulations in history, two commissioners are asking Chairman Tom Wheeler to delay the vote and release his proposal to the public.
“We respectfully request that FCC leadership immediately release the 332-page Internet regulation plan publicly and allow the American people a reasonable period of not less than 30 days to carefully study it,” Republican Commissioners Ajit Pai and Michael O’Rielly said in a statement Monday. “Then, after the commission reviews the specific input it receives from the American public and makes any modifications to the plan as appropriate, we could proceed to a final vote.” (RELATED: FCC/FEC Commissioners: Net Neutrality Regs Threaten Political Free Speech Online)
The commission is set to vote on Wheeler’s aggressive proposal — which will regulate Internet service providers as public utilities and set new standards for speed and pricing — on Thursday, when it is expected to pass by a partisan vote of 3-2. (RELATED: Republican FCC Commissioner Slams ‘Obama’s 332-Page Plan To Regulate The Internet’)
“With the future of the entire Internet at stake, it is imperative that the FCC get this right,” the commissioners said. “And to do that, we must live up to the highest standards of transparency. Transparency is particularly important here because the plan in front of us right now is so drastically different than the proposal the FCC adopted and put out for public comment last May.” (RELATED: FCC Votes For New ‘Net Neutrality’ Regulations)
The FCC traditionally never releases proposed regulations prior to their implementation, prompting Pai to spend the weeks since Wheeler laid out the foundation of the plan to point out its most aggressive regulations in press releases and op-eds with commissioners from fellow agencies. (RELATED: FCC/FTC Commissioners: ‘The Internet Isn’t Broken, And We Don’t Need The President’s Plan To ‘Fix’ It)
“Over the past few weeks, it has become clear that the American people are growing increasingly concerned about government regulation of the Internet and that they want the commission to disclose the plan,” the commissioners said. “Indeed, an independent survey last week found that 79 percent of Americans favored releasing the plan prior to any FCC vote.”
In response to the request Wheeler tweeted that FCC already held a period to review public comment last summer, and that it was “time to act.”
FCC received more than 4 million comments on #OpenInternet during past year that helped shape proposal. It’s time to act.
— Tom Wheeler (@TomWheelerFCC) February 23, 2015