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FCC commissioner implores colleagues to take time on net neutrality

FCC commissioner implores colleagues to take time on net neutrality

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FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel thinks her colleagues need to hold off in deciding net neutrality's fate rather than stick to Chairman Tom Wheeler's aggressive timeline for enacting new rules. Appearing at a Chief Officers of State Library Agencies meeting today, Rosenworcel pointed to passionate feedback from Americans in recent weeks as evidence that the FCC needs to take its time in reviewing new rules that will have a profound effect on the internet.

"I have real concerns about FCC Chairman Wheeler’s proposal on network neutrality—which is before the agency right now," she said. Gaining Rosenworcel's support will be essential if Wheeler hopes to be successful with his revised neutrality rules. In particular, Rosenworcel takes issue with Wheeler's desire to push new open internet conditions through by the end of 2014. "While I recognize the urgency to move ahead and develop rules with dispatch, I think the greater urgency comes in giving the American public opportunity to speak right now, before we head down this road," she said.

Rosenworcel wants to keep the conversation between consumers and the FCC going

Rosenworcel believes the FCC should delay its consideration of Wheeler's rules by a least one month, offering consumers more time to voice their opinions on what path the commission should take. "I believe that rushing headlong into a rulemaking next week fails to respect the public response to his proposal." A topic of net neutrality's importance is "not business as usual," she said. Rosenworcel points out that the FCC's "sunshine period" on deliberations is set to start tomorrow — officially cutting off public comment on the topic. That's far too soon for Rosenworcel's liking, and yet more proof that things are moving along too quickly, she said.

At the very minimum, Rosenworcel wants to see the sunshine period delayed, ensuring that more public opinion will be received by the FCC. And thus far, there's been plenty of feedback; the FCC has received "tens of thousands of emails" and "hundreds" of phone calls in response to Wheeler's "fast lane" proposal. It seems the American public is doing a good job standing up against major companies — even if the FCC won't. "Some big things are before the FCC right now. They affect the future of technology— and the future of libraries," Rosenworcel said.

Update: FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has reportedly rejected Rosenworcel's proposed delay. An FCC spokesman told Re/code reporter Amy Schatz that the chairman believes the vote would allow people to see the net neutrality proposal.