The Federal Communications Commission is scheduled to vote Thursday on proposed net neutrality regulations. Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) and chairman of the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler asking him to temporarily postpone the vote.
In that letter, Chaffetz questioned whether the FCC has been “independent, fair and transparent” in developing the rules to protect content on the Internet. Chaffetz expressed his belief that the process was “conducted without using many of the tools at the chairman’s disposal to ensure transparency and public review.”
Also, Chaffetz sought to have Wheeler release the 332-page draft order that was made available to four other commissioners almost three weeks ago. He also requested that Wheeler appear before a House Oversight hearing on Wednesday ahead of the Thursday vote.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler speaks before calling for a vote during a meeting of the commissioners on May 15, 2014 at the FCC in Washington, DC. (AFP Photo / Karen Bleier)
In addition to Chaffetz’s appeal to Wheeler, two other FCC commissioners, Ajit Pai and Michael O’Reilly, asked for a release of the proposal to the public and for a postponement of the Thursday vote. They are also seeking a 30-day waiting period to allow the public to respond with comment to the proposal and asked that Wheeler reconsider his decision about testifying at the House Oversight hearing.
The public has not been given any information about the FCC’s proposal except that Wheeler drafted the new rules based on both the Communications Act of 1934 and the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
It has been reported that Wheeler initially had a different plan but changed his strategy to label the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act. Many have wondered if President Barack Obama influenced Wheeler’s decision.
This administration continues to claim transparency while at the same time it surreptitiously passes major laws, such as the Affordable Care Act, without releasing pertinent information to the public prior to enactment.
As you may recall, it was Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), who said before Obamacare was passed “We have to pass the [health care] bill so that you can find out what’s in it…”
We all now know “mostly” what’s in Obamacare and many are unhappy with what they have discovered, albeit too late. While many had hoped that the current GOP controlled majority of Congress would swiftly repeal Obamacare, it appears that this may not prove to be an easy task.
A net neutrality protest icon is seen in September 2014.
Many Americans were critical of Obama’s quick actions to sign Obamacare into law. Some are now concerned about the FCC’s decision to vote on the bill before public involvement.
Obama hurriedly signed his approximately 11,000 page health care bill into law with very little time for public scrutiny. It was only after the law was signed that many began to see that promises made by the administration were not going to be kept.
Obama promised on numerous occasions before his health care bill was enacted that “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan."
For many, this certainly has not been the case and it has been forecasted that a number of employers will drop their healthcare plans and replace them with Obamacare. Some doctors are also beginning to refuse to accept Obamacare patients.
It would appear that we could be headed down this administration’s all too familiar path should we allow the FCC’s proposal to be voted on this week before the draft-order has even been released to the public.
Whether you are for or against net neutrality, there is no reason why the FCC’s new proposal has to be hastily passed without scrutiny from the American public. We don’t need to pass another law with wide-sweeping implications before knowing what’s in it and what impact it will have.
Activists chant as they gather outside the headquarters of the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) on December 11, 2014 in Washington, DC. The group gathered to rally for net neutrality prior to the FCC's monthly meeting. AFP PHOTO/BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI
Chances are, based upon past lessons learned after Obamacare became law, what some may think is in the proposed net neutrality draft-order may not be the case. We can’t afford to be “surprised” after the fact again.
Also, if true that Obama influenced Wheeler’s decision to treat the Internet like a utility, then what impact will classifying it as a utility have on the cost of doing business on the Internet and on your First Amendment rights should the bill pass? If we don’t know the answers to these questions, then these issues must be discussed in an open forum.
We all recall the speculation surrounding U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts’ decision in favor of Obamacare. It was believed by many that Roberts was pressured by the Obama administration to change his original decision to vote against the passage of Obamacare.
Although, it has never been proven that the administration in any way influenced Roberts’ decision, it makes one pause and consider how important it is to ensure that this is not occurring in the current FCC net neutrality proposal.
We must act as a nation to ensure that any decision garnered by the FCC or other government entities are independent decisions reached only after public review.
There are still too many unanswered questions and concerns. This is exactly why it is necessary to make the public fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of net neutrality before final actions are taken by the FCC.
It is imperative that the public have full access to the FCC proposal and participate in the decision-making process before blindly allowing the FCC to mandate our future on the important issue of Internet regulation.
It may also turn out after closer examination, that current law already exists on the books to sufficiently address any issues without the need for further government intrusion.
Contact your Congress member today and let them know that you support the release of the FCC’s proposal and a public discussion before any vote is taken.
TheBlaze contributor channel supports an open discourse on a range of views. The opinions expressed in this channel are solely those of each individual author.