FCC Votes To Open Net Neutrality Notice For Comment
May 15, 2014 at 8:48 AM (PT)
"I will not allow the national asset of an open Internet to be compromised," FCC Chairman TOM WHEELER insisted in introducing the Commission's Net Neutrality/open Internet proceeding, approved by the Commissioners on a 3-2 party line vote at the Open Meeting this morning (5/15). The notice to be opened for comments includes WHEELER's previous "fast lane" proposal to allow Internet service providers to charge extra for faster service, but also allows for consideration of regulation of Internet service as common carriers under Title II.
WHEELER, insisting that he will work to see that the Internet does not become a system of "haves and have-nots," added, “Nothing in this proposal authorizes paid prioritization, despite what has been incorrectly stated today.” He cited his experience as a cable industry lobbyist, saying, "I understand this issue in my bones. I’ve got scars from when my companies were denied access in the pre-Internet days."
Commissioner MIGNON CLYBURN, opening the discussion, said that she was pleased that the notice had been changed to add consideration of Title II regulation and noted the intense interest among the public, and her own mother, about the issue of Net neutrality. Commissioner JESSICA ROSENWORCEL reiterated her opinion, voiced publicly in recent weeks, that the Commission should have waited to release the proposal, calling the rulemaking "flawed."
Commissioner AJIT PAI opposed the proposed rules, calling for studies to be commissioned by each Commissioner followed by hearings to discuss the results with the study authors. He noted the failure of the Commission "going it alone" to survive court challenges twice before ("I’m skeptical that the third time will be the charm") and noted on the Title II proposal that utilities are not considered "cutting edge."
Commissioner MIKE O'RIELLY dissented, worried that the proposals would take the Commission into regulatory areas "where it shouldn't be." He suggested prioritization might be good for consumers by ensuring a better experience for users, and decried the lack of evidence in the FCC notice for the negative effects cited there, adding that the proposals would "stifle innovation" with "no help to consumers."
The proceedings were interrupted by a protestor who began to speak after O'RIELLY's segment, announcing that she represented "the Internet generation." The protestor was ushered out after calling for Title II regulation of the Net.
Comments on the docket will be due by JULY 15th, with replies due SEPTEMBER 10th.