Former FCC Commissioners, Lawmakers Weigh in on Proposed Open Internet Order Changes

An interesting story from the New York Times points out that the level of lobbying has increased dramatically since FCC Chairman vowed to "write new rules to secure an open Internet." According to NYT, in the nine weeks since the FCC lost its case against Verizon in the federal courts, at least 69 companies, interest groups and trade associations have met with FCC commissioners and officials about rule changes related to net neutrality and those meetings do not include the 10,000 comments that individuals have submitted to the FCC concerning the Open Internet Order.

While that is interesting, what's more fascinating is the response from one former FCC commissioner and two Republican lawmakers. Fred Upton of Michigan, the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, and Greg Walden of Oregon, the chairman of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, issued a joint statement saying that they are watching the FCC's next move. It becomes obvious when you read the statement below that these guys see problems that are more related to free markets and corporate interests:

"We have said repeatedly that the Obama administration’s net neutrality rules are a solution in search of a problem. The marketplace has thrived and will continue to serve customers and invest billions annually to meet Americans’ broadband needs without these rules. Chairman Wheeler’s approach to regulation seeks to freeze current market practices, which will cast a chill on technological breakthroughs and cause American consumers to lose out."

Meanwhile, Michael J. Copps, a former F.C.C. commissioner (now working with the nonprofit advocacy group Common Cause), said that big business like telecommunications and entertainment companies, have spent millions to lobby for rules that were favorable to them.

The F.C.C.’s plan "is a lot closer to what they wanted than what we wanted," Mr. Copps said in a phone interview with the NYT. "It reflects a lot more input from them."

Copps added that, based on what the F.C.C. has revealed, the commission appears to be going beyond what the appeals court laid out.

"The courts did not tell Chairman Wheeler to take the road that he is reportedly taking," Mr. Copps said.

On a related note, representatives from lobbyist group National Cable and Telecommunications Association (led by former FCC chairman Michael K. Powell) met with commission staff members to discuss the pending proposals.

Verizon also issued a brief statement warning the FCC against enacting “unnecessary and harmful” new rules.

Finally, California Republican Congressman Daryl Issa said on Twitter that the "FCC should focus on policies to promote competition & innovation–not unneeded regs." It seems like nobody except ISPs are excited about the changes. We will have more on this story as it develops.

Source: NYT

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