WASHINGTON Aug 13 U.S. Senate Judiciary
Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy on Wednesday called on the
Federal Communications Commission to host hearings on its new
proposed "net neutrality" rules outside of Washington, not just
at its offices in the U.S. capitol.
The FCC is working to write new so-called "net neutrality"
rules that regulate how Internet service providers (ISPs) manage
traffic on their networks. In January, a federal court struck
down their previous version.
More than 1 million comments have poured into the FCC on the
issue, many of them in opposition to the rules tentatively
proposed by the FCC. The proposed rules, while prohibiting ISPs
from blocking any content, suggest allowing some "commercially
reasonable" deals where content providers could pay ISPs to
ensure smooth and fast delivery of their traffic.
The FCC is now planning six roundtable discussions in
September and October at its offices in Washington, where the
public can meet with FCC staff to talk about the proposed rules
and how they may be changed.
Leahy, a Democrat from Vermont, urged to expand the FCC's
roundtables to other parts of the country, which the FCC has
done in the past on other controversial issues such as changes
to the rules restricting who can own how many and what kinds of
media outlets in local markets.
"Most of (those who had commented on the proposed rules
online) will not be able to come to Washington to participate in
the roundtables that have been scheduled, but their voices are
more important than industry lobbyists and Members of Congress,"
Leahy wrote to Wheeler.
An FCC representative did not immediately respond to a
request for comment.
The FCC is collecting public comments on the proposed net
neutrality rules until September 10. The agency has scheduled
roundtables on various aspects of the rules on September 16,
Sept. 19, Oct. 2 and Oct. 7 in Washington.
Following a firestorm against the proposed rules quickly
launched by consumer advocates and some Internet companies, the
FCC has sought to ensure it reviews the rules in a transparent
matter. Last week, the agency began releasing all comments it
received from the public through email, mail and its online
comment submission portal in a form of a downloadable database
for review and analysis.
(Reporting by Alina Selyukh)