From left to right, FCC commissioners Ajit Pai, Mignon Clyburn, Chairman Tom Wheeler, Jessica Rosenworcel and Michael O’Rielly.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s proposal to let ISPs charge Web services for an Internet fast lane drew condemnation from many net neutrality advocates, and now two members of the commission have expressed doubts about the plan as well.
Jessica Rosenworcel and Mignon Clyburn, the two Democratic members of the commission other than Wheeler, spoke about the chairman’s proposal yesterday. In a speech at a gathering of state library agencies, Rosenworcel called for delaying a vote on the proposal:
Network neutrality is the principle that consumers can go where they want and do what they want on the Internet, without interference from their broadband provider. The American Library Association and the library community have long been champions of network neutrality and an open Internet. Libraries, of course, know that an open Internet is important for free speech, access to information, and economic growth. I also support an open Internet. So I have real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal on network neutrality—which is before the agency right now.
To his credit, he has acknowledged that all options are on the table. This includes discussion about what a “commercially reasonable” Internet fast lane looks like. While I do not know now where this conversation will head on a substantive basis, I can tell you right now I have real concerns about process.
His proposal has unleashed a torrent of public response. Tens of thousands of e-mails, hundreds of calls, commentary all across the Internet. We need to respect that input and we need time for that input. So while I recognize the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road.
For this reason, I think we should delay our consideration of his rules by a least a month. I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response to his proposal.
The FCC is scheduled to vote on a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) on May 15. This would open a new public comment process, but Rosenworcel explained that it would also end the so-called “Sunshine Period,” another good opportunity for debate.
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