The two Republicans on the Federal Communications Commission today asked Chairman Tom Wheeler to delay voting on planned net neutrality regulations for at least one month.
“With the future of the entire Internet at stake, it is imperative that the FCC get this right,” Commissioners Ajit Pai and Mike O'Rielly said in a statement. “And to do that, we must live up to the highest standards of transparency. Transparency is particularly important here because the plan in front of us right now is so drastically different than the proposal the FCC adopted and put out for public comment in May.”
The May proposal would have prohibited providers from blocking traffic, but allowed them to enter into “commercially reasonable” deals to charge companies higher fees for prioritized delivery. The May proposal also didn't involve reclassifying broadband as a utility.
The current proposal, which runs more than 300 pages, hasn't yet been made publicly available in its entirety. But the summary released by the FCC shows that the proposal involves reclassifying broadband as a utility service and imposing the type of common carrier regulations that will prohibit providers from charging companies higher fees for faster delivery of their traffic.
Pai and O'Rielly say the agency should unveil the complete proposal at least 30 days before the agency votes. “Transparency and good process shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” they write. “We ... urge our colleagues to join us and allow the American people to review the proposed Internet regulations before we hold a vote. To do anything less puts at risk the Internet and all of the benefits it brings to the American people.”
Wheeler doesn't appear inclined to grant Pai and O'Rielly's request for a delay. “FCC received more than 4 million comments on #OpenInternet during past year that helped shape proposal,” the FCC Chairman tweeted today. “It’s time to act.”
Meanwhile, Wheeler's plan got some additional support from Silicon Valley today, when Twitter joined the roster of companies officially endorsing the proposal. “Safeguarding the historic open architecture of the Internet and the ability for all users to 'innovate without permission' is critical to American economic aspirations and our nation’s global competitiveness,” the company said in a blog post. “These rules also have important implications for freedom of expression.”