FCC commissioner: I respect the role of Congress

Federal Communications Commissioner Mignon Clyburn previewed remarks she will make during a pair of congressional hearings next week where commissioners will be grilled about their newly approve net neutrality rules. 

The Democratic commissioner, who voted in favor of the new regulations, said she respects Congress's role in technology policy but noted the FCC is the expert agency. 


"I respect the role of Congress," she said in an interview with C-SPAN's "The Communicators" series. "I think that they have a duty and obligation to look from their perch as to how things are evolving in terms of the ecosystem. But we are the expert on communications and technology and the like. And I continue to believe clear rules from us and congressional guidance is the best course."

Republicans in Congress are floating a number of proposals to get rid of the commission's new rules, which give it increased authority to regulate the way service providers deliver Internet access to customers. While one GOP proposal would replace the FCC's rules with similar net neutrality principles, others have called to simply block the new regulations. 

Republicans and Internet service providers have strongly opposed the FCC's move, and Clyburn said the odds of a lawsuit are almost certain.

"I would hope it would not be challenged, but I think my hopes would be dashed on that front," she said. 

During the interview, Clyburn also addressed how the rules would affect the FCC's relationship with the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC has warned that the ruling would encroach on parts of its ability to protect online privacy. 

While the FTC would still have authority over Web applications, the FCC will now take on an increased privacy role dealing with Internet service providers like Comcast or Verizon, she said. 

"We have complimentary functions that will continue," she said. "There might be a little tug here and there, but it's a healthy tug because it is our enthusiastic willingness to make sure that consumers are protected, and we will make sure we have plugged every possible hole."

Earlier this week, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said the agency is organizing a workshop next month to explore the privacy issue. He complimented the FTC's work but noted that his agency didn't just fall off the "turnip truck" when it comes to privacy.