FCC Was Internally Warned Not to Repeal Network Neutrality

As the shock of the FCC’s network neutrality repeal sets in, a recently leaked document shows that there was push back from within.

It was a massive defeat for the open Internet. The FFederal Communications Commission (FCC) repealed network neutrality in a 3-2 vote. The immediate backlash is that lawmakers and government officials are both litigating and legislating to put a stop to all of this.

Along with the aftermath that is only just beginning comes word that a leaked e-mail suggests that push back at the FCC wasn’t just limited to the two Democrats who voted against the move. Politico is reporting that the FCCs own chief technology officer also recommended against the move. From the report:

The Federal Communications Commission’s own chief technology officer expressed concern Wednesday about Republican Chairman Ajit Pai’s plan to repeal the net neutrality rules, saying it could lead to practices that are “not in the public interest.”

In an internal email to all of the FCC commissioner offices, CTO Eric Burger, who was appointed by Pai in October, said the No. 1 issue with the repeal is concern that internet service providers will block or throttle specific websites, according to FCC sources who viewed the message.

“Unfortunately, I realize we do not address that at all,” Burger said in the email. “If the ISP is transparent about blocking legal content, there is nothing the [Federal Trade Commission] can do about it unless the FTC determines it was done for anti-competitive reasons. Allowing such blocking is not in the public interest.”

Those sentiments echo a lot of what has been said outside of the FCC. These types of concerns were raised by technology observers and reporters, Internet founders and tech leaders, artists and celebrities, and even observers from outside the US.

Still, it would appear that the concerns both internally and externally did not even phase FCC Ajit Pai whose vote helped scrap network neutrality. While the vote is final, the policy doesn’t take effect yet for some time now. This doesn’t even account for possible legal challenges that seem all but certain to hit at this point. It’s unclear if this leak will have any effect on the pending legal actions.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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