Today, the House Energy and Commerce Communications and Technology Subcommittee will markup several bills regarding process and transparency at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In addition to a discussion draft authored by Subcommittee Chairman Walden, ranking member Anna Eshoo (D-CA) and Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-IL), the Subcommittee will consider six other draft bills, with three each coming from either side of the aisle.

TechFreedom and the International Center for Law & Economics (ICLE) sent a joint letter to ranking members on the Committee and Subcommittee urging them to consider additional measures to address the FCC’s increasingly unconstrained discretion.

The letter opens:

We commend those members of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from both parties who have proposed bills to increase transparency and accountability at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). Such reforms are badly needed, and the proposed changes would help to greatly improve the current situation.

But welcome as they are, none of the proposed reforms goes to the real problem: the FCC’s increasingly unconstrained discretion. While the reforms may help to raise the political costs of agency actions that are unwise or push the boundaries of its legal authority, vague threats of oversight and censure are too unreliable to offer the certainty and humility that regulated industries require for investment and innovation to flourish.

The draft bills contain some worthwhile reforms, but unfortunately several key provisions are still missing,” said Tom Struble, Legal Fellow at TechFreedom. “Constraints on the FCC’s transaction review process that were included in a 2012 bill have been omitted, leaving the FCC free to continue manipulating its process to extract ‘voluntary’ conditions outside its legal authority — and typically without judicial oversight. We’re also urging Congress to require the FCC to conduct cost-benefit analysis to justify all economically significant actions, as is currently required of executive branch agencies.”

We are available for comment at, and see our other work on FCC Process, especially:

  • 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