The FCC should lay its net neutrality cards on the table

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[Commentary] Federal Communications Commission member Ajit Pai who opposes the whole idea of neutrality rules, has spent the last several days denouncing FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s plan as oppressive regulation that will strike broadband dead. OK, that's a little exaggerated. Still, he's right about one thing.

The latest proposed rule, which Chairman Wheeler described in an op-ed but hasn't made public, is a huge departure from the one the commission put out for comment in 2014. Considering the legitimate questions that Commissioner Pai and other critics have raised about its effects, the commission should break with tradition and release the proposed rule now, well before the vote on Feb. 26. That way the public can have an informed debate about what's actually in the plan, instead of exchanging ideological broadsides about its origins and effects. Harold Feld of Public Knowledge said one reason the commission doesn't make the exact wording of rules public before voting on them is to allow the commissioners to engage in a final give-and-take over the provisions. Consider what Wheeler circulated privately to his fellow commissioners a rough draft, Feld said. That's fine, but nothing but tradition stops the FCC from sharing that draft with the public. The commission continues to accept comments from the public up to one week before it votes on a proposed rule, spokeswoman Kim Hart said. The more people know about what Wheeler is proposing, the more valuable those comments will be -- to the benefit of the FCC's final rule.


The FCC should lay its net neutrality cards on the table