With one eye on Barcelona for this year’s installment of Mobile World Congress and the other firmly focused on Washington… At the time of writing this, the battleforthenet.com countdown clock is at 1D07H22M… According to The Hill an Eleventh-hour drama for net neutrality rules may be in the offing. It seems one of the Democratic FCC Commissioners is having second thoughts at least about some of the proposed legislation. Since the Democrats hold the balance of power in the FCC, which is expected to vote along party lines, the only possible derailment at this stage from within the FCC at least is from a Democratic Commissioner. The Hill reported late yesterday that “Mignon Clyburn, one of three Democrats on the FCC, has asked Chairman Tom Wheeler to roll back some of his provisions before the full commission votes on them, FCC officials said.”
- The request — which Wheeler has yet to respond to — puts the chairman in the awkward position of having to either roll back his proposals, or defend the tough rules and convince Clyburn to back down.
- Clyburn’s changes would leave in place the central and most controversial component of Wheeler’s rules — the notion that broadband Internet service should be reclassified so that it can be treated as a telecommunications service under Title II of the Communications Act, similar to utilities like phone lines.
- However, she wants to eliminate a new legal category of “broadband subscriber access services,” created as an additional point of legal authority for the FCC to monitor the ways companies hand off traffic on the back end of the Internet.
This would effectively remove the planned powers to mandate peering connections and content deals such as Netflix has made recently. Chairman Wheeler has been adamant that this has been an area of interest for him and the FCC should be given power to regulate this point. Could this be a last minute quandary for FCC Net Neutrality?
- Other FCC officials have previously said that the broader act of reclassifying broadband Internet service would, in and of itself, give the commission enough power to oversee interconnection deals. That opinion has been backed up by lawyers at Google, among others, who made the argument to FCC Net Neutrality officials last week.
- Clyburn’s changes also would replace a new standard for Internet service providers’ conduct, which was meant to act as a catchall rule for any future behavior that might abuse consumers. That standard would be swapped out with potentially narrower language from 2010 rules that prevented “unreasonable discrimination.” A federal court tossed out those 2010 rules early last year, setting the stage for the FCC to write new rules.
While the four other FCC Commissioners got a look at the proposed rules almost three weeks ago, you and I will have to wait until after the vote tomorrow to get a look at them.
More Here [TheHill]