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Chairs Call for Making Network Neutrality Draft Public

The incoming chairs of the House Energy & Commerce Commerce Committee and Communications Subcommittee, along with the vice chair of the latter, have all called on FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski to make public his draft of proposed network neutrality rules.

In a letter Thursday, Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Greg Walden (R-Ore.) and Lee Terry (R-Neb.) said the public has not had a "realistic and fulsome" chance to vet the proposal, saying a couple thousand pages of material have been added to the record in the past few days.

They argued that the network neutrality proposal is likely the most controversial item the commission has considered in a decade. "The stakes are high enough and you should go the extra mile," they said.

An FCC spokesperson confirmed earlier this week that that was the case after the issue was raised in a blog posting by Randolph May of the Free State Foundation, but said it was not unusual: "It's routine for FCC staff to place relevant materials into the docket of rulemaking proceedings. These materials include documents already publicly available and other items like workshop transcripts."

And of the publicness of the draft, a senior official said in response to a similar call by Republican Commissioner Meredith Attwell Baker: "We are hard pressed to think of an issue that has been more publicly debated and dissected than preserving a free and open Internet.  Over the last 14 months, we've had hundreds of meetings, held numerous public workshops, received more than 100,000 comments, and even released a text of the proposed rules. The draft order was circulated to all of the Commissioners a full three weeks in advance of the vote, a courtesy that Chairman Genachowski has consistently extended."

An FCC spokesperson had no comment on the legislators' call to release the draft.