Judicial Watch is seeking information relating to the Obama White House’s influence in the FCC reclassifying the internet as a public utility.
Judicial Watch announced in a press release Thursday that it would be filing a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) seeking to obtain records of any possible influence that the Obama White House may have had in the FCC’s decision to reclassify the internet as a public utility. Judicial Watch seeks this information as they further investigate the FCC’s net neutrality regulatory rules, which Judicial Watch refers to as “restrictive.”
The suit was filed by Judicial Watch in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia following the failure of the FCC to respond to two previous FOIA requests. Judicial Watch outlined these requests in their press release,
On March 30, 2017, Judicial Watch requested:
- All records or communications discussing or analyzing the desirability of a “two-sided market” for broadband internet services from an economics or public policy standpoint.
The time frame of this request was identified as March 28, 2015, through March 30, 2017.
On April 4, 2017, Judicial Watch requested:
- All emails between any FCC Commissioner, manager, or employee and Tom Power [formerly U.S. Deputy Chief Technology Officer for Telecommunications in the Obama White House Office of Science and Technology Office (until December 2014) and currently Senior Vice President & General Counsel for the U.S. wireless communications industry group CTIA].
- All emails between any FCC Commissioner, manager, or employee and R. David Edelman [former Special Assistant to President Obama for Economic and Technology Policy].
The time frame of this request was identified as April 15, 2014, through January 20, 2017.
The rest of the press release outlines Judicial Watch’s reasoning for requesting this information, stating:
The time frame for which Judicial Watch seeks the FCC-White House correspondence follows the aftermath of a January 2014 federal appeals court ruling that threw out FCC rules adopted in December 2010 attempting to regulate the Internet by imposing the so-called “net neutrality” under the agency’s Open Internet Order. The court at the time said the FCC could not impose its rules because the FCC had previously decided not to classify broadband internet as a “telecom service” – a statutory classification designed for the old AT&T telephone monopoly. The ruling sent the question of Internet regulation back to the FCC, and, in February, 2015, the Obama appointee-controlled agency redefined broadband Internet as falling under the 1930’s public utility telephone statutes so that it could impose its restrictive net neutrality regulatory rules. Today the Republican-led FCC is voting to begin a proceeding to repeal those regulations.