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GOP lawmakers demand FCC make proposed Internet regs public

Leaders in Congress want the public to see new net neutrality regulations before they become law.

Currently, people aren't expected to see the Federal Communications Commission's new regulations for Internet service providers such as Comcast until the agency's five commissioners vote on them on Feb. 26.

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That’s concerning for Republicans leaders of the House and Senate Commerce committees, especially since the regulations are expected to exert bold authority over the Web by reclassifying Internet service to treat it like a utility.

“Given the significance of the matter and the strong public participation in the commission’s proceeding to date, we believe the public and industry stakeholders alike should have the opportunity to review the text of any proposed order or rules prior to commission action,” Senate committee Chairman John ThuneJohn ThuneOvernight Tech: Last-ditch effort to get Dem FCC commish confirmed | Facebook's Sandberg on fake news | Microsoft completes LinkedIn deal FCC chairman willing to resign to get colleague confirmed Overnight Tech: AT&T, Time Warner CEOs defend merger before Congress | More tech execs join Trump team | Republican details path to undoing net neutrality MORE (R-S.D.), House committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) — the head of the House Communications Subcommittee — said in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday. 

“Limited access to information is beneficial to no one — not to the consumers directly affected by commission action, not to the industries regulated by the rules and not to the commissioners seeking to make information decisions taking public feedback into consideration," they added.

The FCC almost never releases the text of its regulations before the agency’s five commissioners vote on them during open meetings. Wheeler does have the power to release them ahead of time, however, which the lawmakers point out.

They told Wheeler that releasing the text of the new rules would make sense now, given the nearly 4 million public comments on the FCC’s rule-making process — far and away an agency record.  

An FCC spokeswoman, Kim Hart, said that the commission had received the letter and was reviewing it.

— Updated at 11:24 a.m.