Net Neutrality Rules Under OMB Review

After a lengthy administrative delay, the FCC finally kicked off the Office of Management and Budget Review of the information collection requirements in its 2010 Open Internet Order. Today’s Federal Register published companion notices seeking comment to OMB on the network practice disclosures and complaint procedure paperwork required under the Commission’s proposed net neutrality rules. Comments to OMB on both of these notices are due by August 8, 2011.

These requirements must be vetted by OMB under the Paperwork Reduction Act before the information collection requirements can become effective. Because the FCC decided to hold off publishing other aspects of its Open Internet Order pending OMB review of the disclosure and complaint requirements, the overall rules will not become effective pending completion of that process. Broadband service providers have already indicated their intention to challenge the information collection requirements before the OMB, arguing the FCC underestimated the paperwork burdens placed on small and mid-sized providers.  The OMB review process is a key step towards finalization of the rules and final publication, expected sometime this fall (depending on the timing and outcome of that process). As we have previously noted, early appeals of the net neutrality rules by Verizon and Metro PCS were dismissed without prejudice because they were filed before publication of the rules, and legislative challenges to the Open Internet Order remain in play, which together leave the path ahead for the new rules uncertain.

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