GAO Slams FCC For Leaks
Shocker: FCC gives info to lobbyists consumer advocates don't get...
The General Accounting Office has issued a report
(pdf) slamming the FCC for leaking information to companies and lobbyists while leaving consumer advocates and the public in the dark. The study found lobbyists are given ample information on when (and sometimes how) the agency plans to vote, while consumer advocates get no such insight.
The study notes that timing is everything, and lobbyists given a three-week warning on a vote can determine precisely when to apply lobbying pressure. Doling out such information "undermine(s) the fairness and transparency of the process and constitute(s) a violation of FCC's rules,"
the GAO said.
We are recommending that FCC take steps to ensure equal access to information by making sure that nonpublic information is safeguarded from disclosure, and to determine what actions FCC should take if a prohibited disclosure is made, so that all stakeholders have the same information to inform their participation in the rulemaking process. FCC took no position on our recommendation.
Of course, the GAO has also been complaining for years
that the FCC's data on broadband competition is immensely flawed, and the FCC has done little to fix it. The GAO's latest report also criticized the FCC for using external organization data instead of conducting more of their own internal studies."When the 'corporate insiders' and 'K-Street' crowd have the inside track on decisions critical to telecommunications, media, broadband or wireless policy, then the public and consumers, are at an inherent disadvantage,"
says Rep. Edward J. Markey, chairman of the House Subcommittee on Telecommunications and the Internet in a statement
Last month, while Google and Verizon were battling over 700Mhz broadband spectrum, FCC chief Kevin Martin leaked limited parts of the FCC's auction plans early, apparently to influence press coverage
. According to FCC rules, the content of agenda items - such as draft proposals - are "nonpublic information"
and "shall not be disclosed, directly or indirectly, to any person outside the Commission"
under penalty of possible termination.