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Chairman On Track to RSVP to House E&C GOP Leaders on Net Neutrality

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is on track to deliver a package of documents to the House Energy & Commerce Committee Republican Leadership by the Friday, Aug. 12 deadline, according to a spokesperson for the chairman.

The chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Committee and Communications and Oversight Subcommittees asked FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski for documents, including emails and memos, related to its decision-making process on new network neutrality rules the FCC voted to approve last December.

Among the documents they want to see are those relating to any communications with the Obama administration, those that discuss the legal basis for adopting or enforcing the new rules, communications about reclassifying broadband or justifying that move, or those among various parties that relate to voluntary conditions on the Comcast/NBCU merger.

Comcast agreed to abide by the network neutrality rules, approved by the FCC Dec. 21, 2010, whether or not they were eventually overturned by the courts. The rules have not yet gone into effect, and probably won't until at least October, so currently no other cable operator is bound by them.

E&C Chair Fred Upton (R-Mich.), Communications Subcommittee Chair Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Oversight Subcommittee Chair Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) pointed to the FCC's use of a possible Title II reclassification option to get industry to go along with its eventual "compromise" net neutrality rule order.

They also cited White House meetings they say they have learned about at which the chairman and FCC chief of staff Eddie Lazarus were present and in which the network neutrality rules were debated.

"Agency decisions should be based on law and policy," they wrote. "These allegations suggest the FCC's network neutrality proceeding was designed to fulfill a presidential campaign slogan, when it should have been based on an analysis of statutory authority, an economic analysis of the Internet service market, and an examination of the record. If true, it seems the ICC failed to develop an independent conclusion derived from a balanced fact-based record, which is incompatible with proper rule-making."

The three have been long-time critics of the FCC's network neutrality rules as government overregulation of the Internet that could discourage investment and innovation.