Congressmen urge FCC chief to disclose Open Internet Order

U.S. Rep. Fred Upton (R-MI) and other congressional Republican leaders addressed Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler in writing on Thursday, urging him to release the text of the organization’s draft Open Internet Order in advance of a vote scheduled for Feb. 26.

Hearings took place in both chambers on Wednesday, which confirmed the fears lawmakers have had, that the text of the order will not be seen by Congress, the public or other stakeholders before the vote.

Upton was joined by Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation Chairman John Thune (R-SD) and House Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Greg Walden (R-OR) in writing the letter.

“Given the significance of the matter and the strong public participation in the commission’s proceedings to date, we believe the public and industry stakeholders alike should have the opportunity to review the text of any proposed order or rules prior to commission action,” the trio said in the letter. “Accordingly, we urge you to publicly release the draft text of the Open Internet Order when you circulate it to your fellow commissioners.”

The congressmen said, “Transparency in this matter is particularly vital as so many of the public participants who have expressed an interest in net neutrality have no meaningful access to the proceeding at the commission. Releasing the text allows the public to, at the very least, have an informed opinion and ideally, the opportunity to provide feedback on the proposal the FCC will vote on just over one month from today.

“We believe publicly releasing the draft text of the full Open Internet item in advance of the commission vote next month is in the public interest, and we call on you to use your authority to do so,” the letter said.