FCC Commissioner Calls for Delay on New Net Neutrality Rules

Lila Gray

WASHINGTON — Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democratic member of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) asked for the agency’s chairman to delay a proposal for new net neutrality rules in a speech delivered yesterday, the NY Times reported.  

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler needs to muster a minimum number of votes at an upcoming FCC meeting in order to issue a set of proposed Open Internet rules that he announced last month and intended to have before the commission on May 15.

The five members of the FCC would then vote on whether or not to release the proposal for public comment before adopting a final version.

Since Wheeler’s announcement, tens and thousands of individuals, companies and interest groups have reportedly contacted the FCC, in person or via letter, in regard to the topic. According to the NY Times, most of the commentators have opposed new Internet regulations that may allow certain content providers to pay for privileged content.

“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,” Rosenworcel said in an address to a meeting of the Chief Officers of State Library Agencies.

“I think it’s a mistake to cut off public debate right now as we head into consideration of the chairman’s proposal,” Rosenworcel continued. “I think we should delay our consideration of his rules by a least a month.”

FCC rules mandate that the commission stop accepting public comment one week before it votes on a proposal, making today the last day for lobbyists and others to voice their opinion.

Net neutrality, or the notion that all Internet content should be treated equally as it travels from content providers to consumers (and back again), has been hotly debated for years. A federal appeals court has twice thrown out F.C.C. attempts to codify permissible behavior among companies that provide high-speed Internet service.