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F.C.C. Commissioner Asks for Delay on New Net Neutrality Rules


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A Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission called Wednesday on the agency’s chairman to delay a proposal for new net neutrality rules, throwing into doubt whether the chairman will be able to muster enough votes at an F.C.C. meeting next week to issue proposed rules.
Jessica Rosenworcel, one of three Democrats on the five-member commission, said in a speech Wednesday that a delay was warranted because of a “torrent of public response” to the idea that the commission’s rules might create a fast lane on the Internet for companies willing to pay for it.
Last month, Tom Wheeler, the F.C.C. chairman, said he would aim to get a new set of proposed Open Internet rules before the commission at its May 15 meeting. The commission would then vote on whether to put the proposal out for public comment before adopting a final version.
Since then, tens of thousands of individuals, companies, interest groups and others have visited with or written to the F.C.C. about the topic, with most of them opposing any sort of paid access that might cause some Internet content to be favored over others.
Nearly 150 tech companies have joined forces and signed an open letter urging the FCC to abolish such plans since they would ruin the Internet and everything that the industry has built over the past decades.

The list includes Google, Yahoo, Facebook, Microsoft, Netflix, Twitter, Reddit, Imgur, Amazon, Dropbox, eBay, GitHub, Tumblr, Mozilla and more, most of which are heavyweights in the industry.

Shannon Gilson, a spokeswoman for Mr. Wheeler, said that he intends to go ahead with his planned introduction of a proposal.
“Chairman Wheeler fully supports a robust public debate on how best to protect the Open Internet, which is why he intends to put forward his proposals for public comment next week,” Ms. Gilson said. “Moving forward will allow the American people to review and comment on the proposed plan without delay, and bring us one step closer to putting rules on the books to protect consumers and entrepreneurs online.”
The idea that all Internet content should be treated equally as it flows from content providers to consumers and back, known as net neutrality, has been debated for at least a decade. A federal appeals court has twice thrown out F.C.C. attempts to codify permissible behavior among companies that provide high-speed Internet service.
Ms. Rosenworcel said, essentially, that the commission needs to stop and take a breath to allow the F.C.C.’s legal experts to engage the public in an online dialogue about what net neutrality means and how, or whether, it should be enforced.
“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,” Ms. Rosenworcel said in an address to a meeting of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies.
Under F.C.C. rules, the commission must stop accepting public comment one week before it votes on a proposal, meaning that commissioners could no longer be lobbied beginning Thursday.
“I think it’s a mistake to cut off public debate right now as we head into consideration of the chairman’s proposal,” Ms. Rosenworcel said. “I think we should delay our consideration of his rules by a least a month,” she added.
The two Republican F.C.C. commissioners have said that they do not believe that the agency should impose strict, or possibly any, net neutrality requirements.
The fifth commissioner, Mignon Clyburn, a Democrat, has said that she continues to oppose the idea of an Internet fast lane and that this is an opportunity for the commission “to take a fresh look and evaluate our policy in light of the many developments that have occurred over the last four years.”
Falling prey to the lobbying pressures of companies such as Comcast, Verizon and Time Warner Cable and allowing them to charge for access to an Internet fast lane can have a big impact on the way the Internet works and, ultimately, on the consumers that the FCC claims it wants to protect.
Edited by sujith
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