According to multiple reports and his own opinion piece in Wired, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is ready to propose rules to protect Net Neutrality by extending Title II utility status to broadband. Wheeler wrote in Wired:
Originally, I believed that the FCC could assure internet openness through a determination of “commercial reasonableness” under Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996. While a recent court decision seemed to draw a roadmap for using this approach, I became concerned that this relatively new concept might, down the road, be interpreted to mean what is reasonable for commercial interests, not consumers.
That is why I am proposing that the FCC use its Title II authority to implement and enforce open internet protections.
This appears to be a victory for the grassroots activism that has been fighting the large telecom lobbyists. The full details of his proposal are not yet available. So, we shall have to wait and hope that today’s optimism is well founded in the fine print of a 300+ page document.
If Senator Tim Scott’s form letter on Net Neutrality didn’t say much, Senator Lyndsey Graham’s says even less. Unlike Senator Scott’s, only the first paragraph is subject specific. The final three are his form letter boilerplate. Senator Graham isn’t staking out a position. He is simply defending Congress’ power relative to the FCC, something he is usually loathe to do when it comes to the executive branch. Congress can act to declare internet service providers as common carriers; but will they?
I’d like to add a brief moment to address Senator Graham’s office on the matter of etiquette. Senator Graham and I are not on a first name basis. Continue reading “Letter from Senator Lyndsey Graham on Net Neutrality”
As is my habit, I publish the form letters I receive from my elected representatives. On that front, Net Neutrality is the gift that keeps on giving – if you enjoy letters that don’t say anything – such as this missive from Senator Tim Scott. My general interpretation of this is that while Senator Scott is generally in favor of Net Neutrality, he is not going to spend any political capital flexing his muscles on behalf of the FCC’s reach or to push Congress to define internet service providers as common carriers. Thanks to rules about local internet service providers, the diversity of competition, which is key to Senator Scott’s hope for the future, has been decreasing, especially for those of us living in small towns in South Carolina. Continue reading “Letter from Senator Tim Scott on Net Neutrality”
The FCC received over one million comments on Net Neutrality. You might remember their website crashing and deadlines being extended. NPR reports the results of an analysis of a subset of the comments by data-analysis firm Quid. Their state by state analysis shows that I’m one of the few people in South Carolina that cares about Net Neutrality.
They have produced an even more interesting visual that maps out the diversity of reasons given to support Net Neutrality and how those reasons were linked in the comments.
Apparently, the few anti-Net Neutrality comments were from form letters and didn’t register on the map.
Although sites like the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) web tool provided a template for letters, those were used to generate only about half of the comments (apparently, 80% is more typical for other regulatory issues).
Templates are not unusual. As we’ve reported previously, when the public is asked to comment on policy, citizens often engage by sending in a templated or form letter that advocates for a certain position help them create. The Quid analysis shows about half the comments received by the FCC were “derived from templates.” That’s actually low compared to analyses of other rule-making — upwards of 80 percent of comments on financial regulation were templates. – Elise Hu at NPR
My comment to the FCC, for example, was derived from EFF’s template.
Will this work? Hard to know giving the obstacles faced; but the FCC will clearly be on the record for killing Net Neutrality against the will of the people.
HT: Rob Beschizza at BoingBoing
According to this scorecard, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has not picked a team in the Net Neutrality fight. This form letter* seems like an attempt to appear like Tom Wheeler is leaning toward the side of goodness and light:
Thank you very much for contacting us about the ongoing Open Internet proceeding. We’re hoping to hear from as many people as possible about this critical issue, and so I’m very glad that we can include your thoughts and opinions.
I’m a strong supporter of the Open Internet, and I will fight to keep the internet open. Thanks again for sharing your views with me.
Federal Communications Commission
While it is reassuring to have independent confirmation that my comment was registered with the FCC, I did notice the use of “Open Internet”, not “Net Neutrality”. Call me cynical, but I’m slightly concerned that Chairman Wheeler’s definition of an “Open Internet” is not the same as our definition of “Net Neutrality”.
*I have a [bad] habit of publishing any correspondence I receive, particularly of the form variety, from government officials that do not pertain to my tax liability.