Yesterday, the House, by a voice vote, approved legislation to make the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) more transparent, efficient, and accountable. Among other reforms, the bill would increase public transparency of items before the Commission by eliminating the pernicious practice of placing large amounts of information into the record on the last day of the public comment period.
The bill would also amend the Sunshine Act to allow more than two Commissioners to meet privately after the comment period ends in the weeks leading up to a vote, facilitating candid conversation and, ideally, resulting in less politicized votes. Previously, in the run-up to a vote, Commissioners could communicate only through staffers or on a one-on-one basis.
In an effort to get bipartisan support, Republicans agreed to water down a provision that would have required the FCC to publish all final rules 30 days before voting on them. Instead, the bill merely requires the FCC to launch a proceeding to examine whether such early publication is feasible and prudent. The bill will be discussed at today’s Congressional FCC oversight hearing.
“The FCC reform bill is very good news for consumers even though it was watered down in order to get bipartisan support,” said Tom Struble, Policy Counsel for TechFreedom. “For too long, the FCC has operated as a Star Chamber, proceeding in secret and hiding critical information from public view. This reform bill sheds new light on agency proceedings its passage bodes well for a long overdue update of the Communications Act, including a broadband deployment package and a legislative end to the decade-long partisan tangle over net neutrality.”
- “FCC Reform Bills Miss the Mark,” a statement from TechFreedom
- Coalition letter warning against the FCC’s increasing politicization
- “FCC Chairman Invokes Nuclear Option, Bypasses Commissioners on Key Decisions,” a statement from TechFreedom
- Coalition letter against Title II signed by a broad array of policy groups across the political spectrum, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists