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Broadband Privacy Vote on Oct. 27 FCC Docket

The FCC released the sunshine notice/agenda for the Oct. 27 public meeting and new broadband privacy regs are still on the docket. The notice was notable for both what was on it and what was not.

FCC chairman Tom Wheeler signaled two weeks ago he was planning a broadband privacy item vote with the tentative agenda, but he was also planning to vote the set-top box revamp proposal at the September meeting before it was pulled at the 11th hour.

That set-top item was particularly contentious, drawing an unusually bipartisan opposition, or at least concern, from Democrats and Republicans. The broadband privacy rules breaks more along traditional lines, with the pushback primarily from ISPs, advertisers and Republicans concerned about the FCC requiring web users to affirmatively agree to having their web and app histories used by targeted marketers and concerns about the impact on the fee-free underpinning of much of the internet.

But also notable was what was not on the agenda. Both the set-top and business data services revamp items are on circulation—the chairman has circulated them for a vote potentially outside of the public meeting—but could have been put on the October meeting if the chairman had lined up the votes and wanted to do it that way. Certainly in the case of the set-top item, there has been enough talk about wanting more transparency that if the chairman's latest proposal was voted outside the public eye, it might generate some pushback from those Dems, as well as Republicans, on the Hill.

Then again, putting them on the public meeting agenda would have triggered sunshine prohibitions on talking to FCC staffers about the proposals.

Wheeler signaled that he pulled the set-top item because there had been last-minute changes that the commissioners had not had enough time to vet before voting.