FCC Still Editing Net Neutrality Rule Rollback Order

The FCC continues to edit the Restoring Internet Freedom (net neutrality rule rollback) order, which was approved subject to those edits at the Dec. 14 meeting, but has yet to be released.

The FCC voted to eliminate the rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization and reclassify ISPs as Title I information service providers not subject to Title II (common carrier) regs.

The process of post-vote, so-called "editorial privileges" is not unusual, but it has been the subject of criticism from commissioner Michael O'Rielly, who regularly dissented from the process during Tom Wheeler's chairmanship of the FCC in protest of the fact that substantive changes were allowed to be made to items after the commissioners had voted them at public meetings.

Regular meeting watchers had become used to Wheeler ending a meeting with the granting of editorial privileges and a note of the standing objection. (from O'Rielly).

Under FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the editorial privilege was tightened almost a year ago so that only commissioners can make substantive changes.

Beginning with the Feb. 23 meeting, any substantive changes to a document had to be proposed by a commissioner and then "should only be made in cases in which they are required, pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, as a response to new arguments made in a Commissioner’s dissenting statement," Pai said at the time.

"The Order is effective following approval by the OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act," said an FCC spokesperson. "Once OMB approves it, the FCC will publish a notice in the Federal Register with the effective date, which will be shortly after the Federal Register publication of that notice."

In the meantime, legislators and other government officials in New York, California and Washington (State) aren't waiting around, having pledged to come up with their own net neutrality rules, which is why the Restoring Internet Freedom order preempts such moves, setting up a legal battle if such state laws pass, a second front in the legal war against the rules, which will be challenged by net neutrality activists as well.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.