GOP Senators Ask Wheeler to Extend Broadband Privacy Comments

The Republican chairmen of the Senate Judiciary and Appropriations Committees, the latter of which has to sign off on the FCC's budget, have asked FCC chairman Tom Wheeler to extend the comment period on its broadband privacy proposal, citing the bipartisan majority for a longer look that revealed itself at an FCC commissioners panel at INTX in Boston this week.

The proposal would create new privacy rules, which is a shift from the enforcement of privacy policies and prevention of false and deceptive conduct approach the Federal Trade Commission took before it lost oversight of broadband privacy when the FCC reclassified internet access as a common carrier service.

The FCC's Wireline Bureau on April 29 denied requests from cable operators and other ISPs large and small that the comment period be extended from the end of May until early July.

In the letter, dated May 19, Sens. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and John Boozman (R-Ark.) pointed out that at the INTX show in Boston, three FCC commissioners—Republicans Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly and Democrat Jessica Rosenworcel—were in agreement that it was a complicated subject that would "befit from a longer rulemaking."

Given that bipartisan majority, the senators said, and the fact that it took the FCC a year to notice the rulemaking—after its Title II reclassification created the authority gap—and when it did the notice was 150 pages long—"we ask that you extend the comment period...for a reasonable time, but not less than 45 days."

They want an answer by May 27.

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.