Tags: Barack Obama | FCC | Federal Communications Commission | Internet | regulations

FCC Commissioner Mounts Opposition to Proposed Internet Rules

By    |   Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 12:54 PM

A Federal Communications commissioner unusually has gone public with complaints that the FCC chairman's proposed secret new broadband Internet regulations will give the federal government too much power over the Internet and open the door to new taxes on users and providers.

Ajit Pai, one of two Republican members on the five-member FCC, called the proposed rulings "President [Barack] Obama’s plan to regulate the Internet" and commented, "I believe the public has a right to know what its government is doing, particularly when it comes to something as important as Internet regulation. I have studied the 332-page plan in detail, and it is worse than I had imagined," The Wall Street Journal reported.

Under FCC regulations, only its chairman, Tom Wheeler, has the authority to release the text of the proposed regulations before Feb. 26, when the FCC will vote on them, but he has declined to do so, the National Journal reports.

The proposed regulations would prevent broadband providers from altering speed on websites in exchange for payment, and would classify broadband providers as common carriers, similar to telephone service providers, which would open broadband providers to the same regulations as public utilities.

FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart told the Journal "the proposal will not regulate the prices broadband service providers charge their customers."

However, Pai said, "The claim that President Obama's plan to regulate the Internet does not include rate regulation is flat-out false. Indeed, the only limit on the FCC's discretion to regulate rates is its own determination of whether rates are 'just and reasonable,' which isn't much of a restriction at all," the Journal reported.

Republicans in both the House and Senate have launched investigations into whether the regulations were adopted in response to Obama's influence over the FCC, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Wheeler's original plan did not treat broadband providers as utility services, and seems to have undergone a change after a statement from Obama in November supporting that approach, which some congressional Republicans consider undue influence.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, has demanded that Wheeler provide documents showing how the FCC's regulation changes came about by Feb. 23, prior to the commission vote.

In his letter, Johnson stated, "Since the FCC is an independent agency that derives its authority from Congress and not the White House, it is highly concerning that the White House would seek to take on this level of involvement in the regulatory process of the FCC, or attempt to supplant completely the agency’s decision-making apparatus," the Journal reports.

The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee also has launched an investigation.

Rep. Fred Upton, R-Michigan, who chairs the House committee overseeing the FCC, said that while the FCC is supposed to be an independent agency, "Turns out that wasn’t the case then, it’s not the case now, and the White House needs to get its hands off the FCC," the Journal reported.

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A Federal Communications commissioner unusually has gone public with complaints that the FCC chairman's proposed secret new broadband Internet regulations will give the federal government too much power over the Internet.
FCC, Federal Communications Commission, Internet, regulations
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2015-54-11
Wednesday, 11 Feb 2015 12:54 PM
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