Tags: FCC | net neutrality | Mignon Clyburn | Tom Wheeler

Democrat on FCC Calls for Changes to Net Neutrality Rules

By    |   Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 10:35 PM

A Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission has asked the panel's chairman to roll back some of the new net neutrality rules that are expected to be voted on Thursday.

Mignon Clyburn, one of the commission's three Democrats, has asked Chairman Tom Wheeler to scale back some of his plans, The Hill reports.

Clyburn, 52, whom President Barack Obama appointed to the commission in August 2009, has long opposed rules that would give wireless networks more flexibility than their landline counterparts.

Her request forces Wheeler to roll back his plans or persuade Clyburn to scale back her opposition, The Hill reports.

The chairman, an Obama appointee to the commission in November 2013, has been seen as favoring weaker neutrality rules before reversing his position on supporting tougher restrictions on Internet service providers, according to the report. He has not yet responded to Clyburn's request.

Wheeler's proposals would place tougher restrictions on Internet service providers — and they would need the support of Clyburn and the commission's other Democrat, Jessica Rosenworcel, in order to pass.

The panel's two Republicans, Ajit Pai and Michael O'Rielly, on Monday called on Wheeler to delay Thursday's vote and release the full text of the rules changes to the public, the Daily Caller reports. Those generally are not released until after the commission votes.

Clyburn declined to discuss specific changes she was supporting with The Hill on Tuesday.

"This is a process that is an interaction with all five members of the commission and their offices," Clyburn said after speaking at a policy forum sponsored by Comptel, a trade group.

"I will just say that I am attempting to strike a balance and whatever you hear, whether it's accurate or not, is a reflection of my enthusiastic willingness to do so," she added.

According to the report, Clyburn would seek to leave intact Wheeler's plan to reclassify broadband Internet service such that it can be treated as a "telecommunications" under the Communications Act of 1934, which is how utilities like telephone lines are addressed.

Net neutrality supporters say the move is the best way to prevent Internet service providers from interfering with individual access to the Web, the Hill reports.

But Clyburn also wants to eliminate a new legal category of "broadband subscriber access services." This was created to allow the commission to monitor "interconnection arrangements" — or how companies hand off traffic to one another on the Internet, according to the report.

The issue peaked last year when Netflix charged Comcast and other large companies with creating "Internet tolls" before easily passing Web traffic among networks, the Hill reports.

Wheeler had initially sought to allow the FCC to investigate and act against deals that were "not just and reasonable," according to a fact sheet released by the commission earlier this month.

Eliminating the new category could make policing those arrangements harder for the FCC, agency officials told The Hill. They were granted anonymity in order to speak freely about the negotiations.

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A Democrat on the Federal Communications Commission has asked the panel's chairman to roll back some of the new net neutrality rules that are expected to be voted on Thursday.
FCC, net neutrality, Mignon Clyburn, Tom Wheeler
Tuesday, 24 Feb 2015 10:35 PM
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