Senator Patrick Leahy recently called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to host round-table discussions about net neutrality outside of Washington. The agency previously announced that it will hold a number of sessions concerning the open Internet inside of the capital.
The FCC should heed the senator’s call and follow through with hosting sessions around the country. It would be reasonable for the FCC to, say, hold a round table or three here in Silicon Valley, given the technology industry’s obvious stake in the Internet’s health.
The senator noted that he recently spoke to a number of companies in his home state of Vermont that depend on the Internet to do business. They have a stake in preserving an open Internet, as well:
In July, I held a Senate Judiciary Committee field hearing in Vermont on the importance of protecting an open Internet. That hearing allowed the Committee to hear from voices that otherwise would not have had an opportunity to be heard in Washington. These voices included small business owners like Cabot Orton of the Vermont Country Store and Lisa Groeneveld of Logic Supply, Inc. Both of these companies are great Vermont success stories thanks to the equalizing power of the Internet.
The issue of net neutrality is no small matter, and it has attracted mainstream attention.
Precisely what sort of net neutrality rules will eventually be passed isn’t clear. It isn’t clear whether paid prioritization will find its way in the coming set of regulations. And it also is not yet clear what legal standing the FCC will select to base its rules upon. Soliciting feedback inside of Washington isn’t a bad idea. But also picking up a few in-person comments outside the Beltway isn’t such a bad idea, either.
The FCC responded to a request for comment on the senator’s suggestion by saying, “The roundtable events are designed to incorporate a wide range of views on this important topic, and they will be open to the public and streamed live online. In addition, both online viewers and those who attend in person will have the opportunity to ask questions.”