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FCC to Exempt Blog Comments from Title II Proceedings

The FCC has warned anybody who weighs in on an FCC blog about its plan to reclassify broadband under Title II regulation between June 10 and 17 will not have their comments taken into account in deciding how to put the final touches on the high-profile item.

That is because it would fall into the seven-day sunshine period before the FCC takes action on an item during which ex parte comments and meetings about it are off limits.

Since the FCC decided it would start taking blog comments into account as official comments in its proceedings, it also has to discount them during that period.

The FCC gave that notice June 10 in announcing what everybody already knew, that it would launch its inquiry into possible legal frameworks for broadband Internet regulation" in order to promote innovation and investment, protect and empower consumers, and bring the "benefits of broadband to all Americans."

FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski wants to apply a handful of Title II common carrier regulations to the transmission portion of broadband so that the FCC can clearly establish its authority over access and privacy issues and implement its National Broadband Plan. He would leave the content and applications portions under the lighter-touch Title I.

Since time was of the essence in the wake of the BitTorrent court decision that called the FCC's broadband regulatory authority into question -- and the FCC is trying to implement that national plan as well as codify and expand its Internet access guidelines -- the commission had initially been expected to simply change the rules through a declaratory ruling combined with a declaration that it was forbearing from--not applying--all but a handful of Title II regs.

But there has been some major pushback from Congress. The plan is to open a Notice of Inquiry into the issue of classificiation, including the chairman's so-called Third Way, as as well as doing nothing and applying all Title II regs. The industry would prefer the former, while Commissioner Michael Copps would prefer the latter.