Wheeler's Net Neutrality Proposal Brings Unfamiliar Disorder to FCC

By Wayne Rash  |  Posted 2014-05-13 Print this article Print

But that appears to have changed. Now that the details of the NPRM are being leaked, the possible actions of the FCC are being discussed in public. The commissioners are expressing their thoughts, concerns and reservations. Then, something unprecedented happened. The details are changing as a response to public opinion outside of the sterile and usually pro forma comment period.

This apparent openness has given the impression that the FCC is in disarray. After all, some previous FCC chairs have been immune to public comment that came in outside of the formal comment channels. Now, the reaction of the public has had an immediate effect, and the proposals have changed even before they've been formalized.

This is new. Previously the FCC has been a staid agency with little transparency. Rules emerged only after months of closed-door meetings, opaque ex parte actions and unexplained decisions. However clumsily the proposal appears to have been handled, it would seem that the commission is moving into the sunshine.

While Chairman Wheeler hasn't specifically said that there's a change, this is one area where it would appear that his actions speak more loudly than his words. He has said what he plans to propose in public (more or less), and he's said that he's rethought his position.

He's clearly inviting reaction, and he's getting it. Already, hundreds of thousands of responses to the proposals have arrived at the FCC, phone lines have been jammed, and the Big Cable providers, including Comcast, Cox, Verizon, Time Warner and others, are already screaming that they'll oppose the current round of changes.

Of course, there's a problem with all of this expressed angst. Nobody has actually seen the proposals that the FCC would be voting on. Right now, all of the entrenched interests, the advocacy groups and the public are objecting to what they think might be in the proposal. But they haven't seen the substance of what they are objecting to.

Any actual knowledge will have to wait until the time on May 15 (or later if the vote is delayed) when the contents of the NPRM are made public. Then, anyone who wishes can send their comments and feelings to the FCC at a special email address where they can share their feelings, alternate proposals, complaints and outright damnation for all to see.

And yes, with this apparent new attempt at openness, it would appear that Wheeler brought a messy process—even chaos—to the previously buttoned-up FCC. But sometimes democracy is messy. Sometimes it's chaotic. I, for one, welcome it.


Submit a Comment

Loading Comments...
Manage your Newsletters: Login   Register My Newsletters

Rocket Fuel