Daines Calls for Increased Accountability and Transparency at FCC

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Steve Daines today pressed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to increase transparency and accountability in the rule-making process and questioned the FCC’s routine practice of granting staff broad “editorial privileges” to make changes to rules previously voted on by FCC Commissioners.

During a Senate Commerce Committee hearing held today with all five FCC commissioners in attendance, Daines repeatedly called on the FCC to release the original text of their rule regulating the Internet as a utility under Title II of the Communications Act of 1934.

Despite Daines’ calls, Chairman Tom Wheeler refused to answer if he would release the plan that the Commission voted on, instead referring Daines to the now-public version of the rule that Wheeler admitted contains numerous editorial changes made by FCC staff.

Commissioner Michael O’Reilly confirmed that the plan voted on by the FCC on February 26 is substantively different than the version released to the public on March 12.

Following the hearing, Daines reiterated his call for the FCC to release the original text of the Open Internet Order that was voted on February 26. 

“The American people deserve transparency and accountability from their government and the FCC is no exception,” Daines stated. “FCC staff should not be able to make broad, non-transparent changes to a rule after it has already been voted on. The FCC needs to immediately release the exact text that they voted on February 26 and ensure the public is aware of what changes have already been made to this massive rule.”

On February 26, 2015, the FCC ushered in new regulations placing more burdens on Internet access under Title II of the Federal Communications Act of 1934. The FCC failed to make its plan public until March 12, 2015 – a full two weeks after the vote— at which point a substantially edited version of the rule was released. The plan that was approved on February 26 was 317 pages, while the rule released to the public totals 400 pages. 

Video of Daines’ exchange with the FCC Commissioners is available here.