In a letter sent today to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, a coalition of groups expressed concerns over the agency’s loss of objectivity and impartiality in recent proceedings, especially the FCC’s ongoing Open Internet rulemaking. The letter urges the Commission to keep partisan politics out of its decision-making process, to avoid spinning media coverage, and to focus on substance, not the total number of comments filed in controversial proceedings.
The letter follows a Washington Post story last week, which reported that the FCC worked exclusively with pro-Title II activists in an “unusual collaboration” ahead of the September 15th Net Neutrality reply comment filing deadline. This had the clear effect of promoting a false media narrative that the flood of comments coming into the FCC overwhelmingly favored stringent, 1930’s-era phone regulations for the Internet. In fact, nearly a million comments filed during this time opposed Title II regulations, more than were collected by the leading pro-Title II site. But this fact was disclosed by the Commission to neither the public nor media outlets, including the Washington Post, which made no reference of it in its report.
“It is deeply disturbing that FCC staff appear to be disregarding arguments that do not fit a preconceived agenda,” said Phil Kerpen, President of American Commitment, which organized over 800,000 comments against Title II. “As an independent, expert agency, the FCC has an obligation to weigh arguments and evidence evenly before making decisions. However, the FCC’s recent process failures threaten one of the greatest assets of any independent agency: its perceived objectivity.”