The FCC Just Faked Out America With
Last-Minute Vote On Consumer
Ajit Pai is BIG MONEY’s plant in the FCC. We have one chance left to save Net Neutrality, contact your Law Maker in Washington and tell them to support Net Neutrality by overturning the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality with the CRA.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seems to have pulled some fast and fancy moves this week, as a controversial change to its complaint review process was seemingly pulled, and then suddenly passed.
Today, the FCC’s four remaining commissioners voted along party lines to approve a package of rule changes around how it handles consumer feedback, including complaints against internet service providers (ISPs), following several long-term scandals about its actions and/or inaction in this area.
Earlier this week, one aspect of that package drew public ire when a series of media reports pointed out that more Americans might have to pay $225 to have the FCC review their complaints.
The matter at hand, as Motherboard deftly explained, is this:
As it stands, the FCC currently accepts two kinds of complaints from cable or broadband subscribers: formal and informal. Informal complaints are free but often ignored. In contrast, formal complaints cost a $225 processing fee and kick off a cumbersome legal process involving hearings and paperwork most users won’t have the time for.
A fact sheet circulated by the FCC… claims the agency’s proposed rule change simply “streamlines and consolidates procedural rules” involving said complaints. But a letter sent to the FCC by Democratic Senators Frank Pallone Jr. and Mike Doyle claims that under the changes the FCC would have forwarded all informal complaints to ISPs without reading them, forcing consumers to pay a $225 fee if they want to be taken seriously by the agency.
Some confusion ensued, but ultimately the FCC reportedly said it would postpone voting on that matter in today’s hearing, but then Chairman Ajit Pai proposed and successfully passed it, anyway.
In his comprehensive summary of the whole situation, Gizmodo’s Rhett Jones described this week’s fast-moving mess the best: “By sneaking the changes through a vote via complicated legalese and the use of footnotes, the FCC has at least done us a favor in bringing it to everyone’s attention that the rules are bullshit and require taxpayers to cough up more money if they want to guarantee their complaint will be taken seriously.”
As media quoted widely, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the only remaining Democrat after Mignon Clyburn’s emphatic resignation earlier this year, called the decision “bonkers.”