Rosenworcel: Delay Vote on Net Neutrality Rules

Democratic FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has asked FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler to delay his planneed May 15 vote on a draft of new network neutrality rules by at least a month.

She used the opportunity of a speech to the chief officers of state library associations--librarians have long supported net neutrality--to take out her "real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal on network neutrality."

She said she had concerns about the process, and rushing that process.

"His proposal has unleashed a torrent of public response. Tens of thousands of e-mails, hundreds of calls, commentary all across the Internet," she said, which was no understatement. Hundreds of computer companies have weighed in with concerns, as have public advocacy groups.

"We need to respect that input and we need time for that input," she said. "So while I recognize the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road."

"I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response to his proposal," she said, adding that the FCC should delay the vot by at least a month.

She pointed out that the seven-day quiet period before the vote begins May 8. "That means we no longer accept public comment. I think it’s a mistake to cut off public debate right now as we head into consideration of the Chairman’s proposal. So again, at a minimum, we should delay the onset of our Sunshine rules."

An FCC source speaking on background said the vote would go on as planned, after which the draft would be released to the public for comment. FCC staffers have been reading thousands of e-mails and comments, said the source, and will continue to do so.

“Chairman Wheeler fully supports a robust public debate on how best to protect the Open Internet," said an FCC spokesperson, "which is why he intends to put forward his proposals for public comment next week. Moving forward will allow the American people to review and comment on the proposed plan without delay, and bring us one step closer to putting rules on the books to protect consumers and entrepreneurs online.”

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.