Tuesday, February 10, 2015

House Oversight Probes TWH over FCC

Jason Chaffetz
The House Oversight Committee is investigating if the TWH had any "improper influence" on the FCC's net neutrality rules unveiled this week. The move by the GOP-led Oversight Committee comes days after the FCC detailed rules that would reclassify broadband internet under regulations governing traditional telephones.

Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) sent a letter to FCC chair Tom Wheeler requesting all communications with the WH and other executive branch agencies about the issue, as well as internal docs discussing the WH recommendations and visitor logs of any meetings with admin officials.

In a broader request, Chaffetz asked for all docs and communications from internal staff about the net neutrality rules since Jan 2014. That includes all draft and final versions of the orders. Chaffetz also advised Wheeler's office and anyone else working on the issue not to delete any docs, a signal more requests for info are possible.

The new regs are meant to enforce rules that would prevent internet service  providers from blocking or slowing any internet traffic, while also barring companies from negotiating deals for priority service. The rules largely mirror President Obama's recommendations to the independent agency last year.

In his letter, Chaffetz cited a WSJ report last week describing the effort by a pair of WH staffers who helped build the admin's case for stronger rules. Gigi Sohn, a special counsel for Wheeler, on Thursday said Obama's recommendations actually gave Wheeler cover to issue strong rules that he was already leaning toward.

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