FCC chairman starts blogging

Saying he wants to make an end run around lobbyists, Federal Communications Commission chairman Michael Powell has started using a weblog to elicit feedback for FCC initiatives.

“I am looking forward to an open, transparent and meritocracy-based communication—attributes that bloggers are famous for!” Powell wrote in his first post, entered last Wednesday, July 7. Powell’s comment was posted on a technology news weblog run by AlwaysOn LLC of Woodside, Calif.

In that first entry, Powell stuck to generalities. He outlined his overall guiding philosophy for the FCC, stating that a government should regulate new technologies, such as voice-over IP, as little as possible, giving the private sector freedom to innovate. But he also urged the private sector to become involved in policy-making, warning that, “as regulators get involved in issues such as VOIP, affecting high-tech industries, the collateral damage can be significant.”

Powell then asked for feedback on a number of topics, including using the unused spectrum that buffers television channels from one another.

He said he wanted to hear from the tech community directly rather than through the inside-the-beltway world, “where lobbyists filter the techies.”

Powell posted a second comment Sunday, after reviewing the 124 responses the first entry generated. In this entry, he focused on addressing the usual FCC hot-button issues such as competition, media ownership and the FCC’s role in regulating the content of the airwaves.

Weblogs, or blogs, are frequently updated Web pages that serve as personal journals. Weblog owners post comments or links to other Web sites, and readers can leave their own comments as well (See GCN).

Although massively popular among individual users, government agencies do not seem to have found many uses for weblogs. The Justice Department’s Western States Information Network uses a weblog to share information among local law enforcement agencies (See Washington Technology). Also, the Office of Naval Research is looking into the possible use of weblogs for Defense Department collaboration.

FCC spokesman David Friske said that he was not aware that Powell has set any schedule for how often or when to post his comments.

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