Pai's Tranparency: File This One Under “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”

[Commentary] The Federal Communications Commission is expected to release its draft Network Neutrality Order on Wednesday, November 22—just before Thanksgiving. This timing has created an uproar among some opponents of the Order, who claim that the timing is merely part of what is admittedly an unfortunately common strategy among governments to release unpopular news when it thinks the public is least likely to see it. In this case, however, the claim has several problems.

First, as noted, the FCC only began to release draft orders under the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. By comparison, the public was not allowed to view any draft of the 2015 Open Internet Order and did not see the actual Order until 14 days after the vote. Second, the FCC now releases the draft to the public three weeks prior to the vote, meaning that the relative timing is the same as it was for other orders and other Commission meetings. Nov 22 is three weeks and one day prior to the vote. Presumably the Commission could also release it on Nov 24 and be equally close to three weeks. But it seems unlikely that those rending their clothes over the Nov 22 release would be happier were it released on Nov 24.

Everyone should feel free to criticize the government, the FCC, and the Chairman himself. I do when I disagree with the Chairman. But taking advantage of a transparency-enhancing reform to promote a cause is too cynical, even by today’s standards.

[In addition to being president and senior fellow at the Technology Policy Institute, Scott Wallsten is also a senior fellow at the Georgetown Center for Business and Public Policy]. 


File This One Under “No Good Deed Goes Unpunished”