FCC's Pai, FEC's Goodman Blast Title II

The FCC is in its quiet period —seven days— before its planned Feb. 26 vote on new network neutrality rules.

That means both sides of the debate can no longer pitch their positions to FCC officials. But the flood of arguments continues via op-eds, releases and 11th hour events, including those by commissioners themselves.

Republican commissioner Ajit Pai, who has been something of a one-man strike force against FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's plan to reclassify Internet access under Title II, has now teamed up with a member of the Federal Election Commission (last week it was a Federal Trade Commission member) to argue that it is "Internet freedom" that Title II threatens.

In an op-ed in Politico, Pai and commissioner and former chair Lee Goodman (also a Republican) said both their agencies are calling for new government regs as though freedom were "a vacuum in need of government control."

They call the Title II classification  taking a "regulatory hammer" to "a Clinton-era bipartisan consensus that the Internet should be free from intrusive government regulation."

The FEC beef, they say, is with that agency "debating whether to regulate Internet content, specifically political speech posted for free online."

The FEC last fall started collecting comment on whether it should impose new online political disclosure regulations, which Goodman has warned could affect "political blogs, websites, webcasts and podcasts, online news providers and news aggregators, social media and platforms, video websites and video content posted on the Internet, chat rooms and email, and all other Internet-based forums for political discussion and debate." 

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.