...The Federal Communications Commission has reportedly dropped a proposed change in how it handles complaints that critics argued could have left consumers with fewer avenues to resolve problems with telecommunications carriers like AT&T and Verizon.
The agency is scheduled to vote Thursday on proposed changes to the complaint process, but according to the Washington Post, the most controversial changes have been removed from the draft.
The FCC offers two ways for people to complain about billing problems, privacy concerns, and other issues with telecom carriers. Formal complaints cost $225 to file and work a bit like court proceedings. But the commission also offers an informal complaint system, which is free.
Critics said that the proposed change would have left the informal complaint system toothless, forcing consumers to spend the time and money of the formal review process if they wanted to the FCC to take action on their complaints.
One reason the critics saw ill will behind the proposal: The FCC last year declined to release the full text of informal complaints it received about net neutrality ahead of the agency's vote to jettison those rules in December. The Obama-era rules banned broadband providers from blocking or discriminating against particular internet content. The FCC highlighted the lack of formal complaints about net neutrality in support of its decision to roll back the rules, but did not address the informal complaints.
In a statement, Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC's only Democratic commissioner, called the proposed change to the informal complaint process "bonkers."
"No one should be asked to pay $225 for this agency to do its job," she said. "No one should see Washington close its doors to everyday consumers looking for assistance in a marketplace that can be bewildering to navigate." A spokesperson for Rosenworcel said earlier Wednesday that she was talking with other commissioners about changes to the proposal ahead of Thursday's meeting....