Irony: If You Want To Know What The FCC's Rules On Internet Openness Are, You Need To File A FOIA

from the openness-is-a-matter-of-degree dept

We’ve already talked about how the FCC was going to approve heavily watered down (and written in conjunction with AT&T) “net neutrality” rules today — which it did. However, one aspect of all this that is particularly ridiculous is the fact that the FCC voted on rules which it has not released, and which it claims may be adjusted before they are released. Considering that these rules are supposed to be about internet openness it seems pretty ironic that the rules are secret. Jeff Jarvis noted this irony in asking if he needed to file a Freedom of Information Act request just to find out what was voted on. He followed it up by filing just such a request that seeks not just the rules, but also details of correspondences and meeting notes leading up to the creation of the rules. We’ll see what the FCC comes back with.

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Comments on “Irony: If You Want To Know What The FCC's Rules On Internet Openness Are, You Need To File A FOIA”

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Fred says:

FOIA Would not work

The Order before it is final would be considered deliberative process and would not be released under FOIA.

There is nothing surprising here. This is not a legislature. This is a commission. And the commission has been negotiating the order up until the last minute. There is no draft order for public review because no such document exists. From one hour to the next hour, the draft is going to change pursuant to negotiations.

The FCC could not release its Decision because up until today, it had not made one. As of the meeting, that’s when the decision stops changing – stops getting negotiated – stops being revised.

That is why FCC staff requests “editorial privileges.” The negotiation of any order goes up, literally, to the last minute. The staff needs to take that final decision, clean up the grammar, citations, spelling, footnotes, etc in the next day before it is released (they are not changing the order, they are just correcting the copy miztakes I mean mistakes).

One final note – about a month ago Genchowski – while not release the text itself – pretty much outlined publicly the decision at that point – in order for their to be a final month of feedback (and vigorous feedback there was). The FCC tends to be very up front about its process.

Anonymous Coward says:

Sounds about right. If you got the money and definitely the time to waste you may communicate with your government. OR you could be smart, make your own rules within their rules and ignore them. Use their own tax breaks to pay them no money. Don’t call their police. They don’t come anyway. We now have to report break-ins on a web site. No more officers to verify that the crime even happened. There is no protection except your own Gun or Taser and if you think I’m lying or stretching the truth of the situation in America you are a fool. If you think the government can fix it you are a bigger fool. If you even bother to vote in the next election you will be a traitor to the American ideal because the elections are rigged and if your state legislature doesn’t like your vote they decide it themselves electorally.
The founding fathers would roll over in their graves and Jesus would actually become a revolutionary on a white horse with a flaming sword if they had to endure the Christian society we have created.

egbert says:

sounds similar to ACTA, to me. hold secret discussions, with unnamed parties, come to secret conclusions, then keep those secret conclusions from people for as long as possible. also read that the majority of those involved in ACTA were unhappy about the secrecy and more unhappy with the results (which have been tailored to the entertainment industries demands, via the USA government). if there was such concerns, why did these countries representatives not stop things from day one? too late to moan now, although this could easily be a ‘get out clause’ to try to make out to the peoples of those countries that the various representatives ‘tried to stop negotiations’? what absolute BS!

Peter Pratt says:

Our FOIA of 12/03 for FCC Open Internet Order

At we filed, via a FOIA of 12/03/2010, for the initial proposal regarding the FCC’s Open Internet Order. We filed within 48 hours of Chairman Genachowski’s submittal to his colleagues of the first proposed draft “on circulation.”

Our FOIA is here:

That initial proposal was changed to a degree of which the public has been given a fully transparent view. That change happened during the intervening 3 weeks between the Genachowski release and the vote by the full Commission on 12/21.

In response to Fred in this thread: Yes, we know what the rules of FCC say. The point is that the American public has a right to see, study, and understand how important federal policy decisions are made.

This stuff isn’t national security related. It should not be a secret. This is a government agency responding to lobbying pressures from a variety of widely divergent corporations, public interest groups, and trade associations. The largest companies in the telecom sector put up the largest lobbying efforts. There is no surprise there. Saying that however does not diminish our right as Americans to access the documents in order to see the process of Order drafting itself.

The Order will have a huge impact on a vibrant sector of the American economy for years to come. We have a full right to understand how and why the Chairman and his colleagues recommended what they did.

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