On second thought, 1.1 million comments to FCC weren’t enough

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By Scott M. Fulton, III 

In a surprise change of plans late Friday afternoon, the Federal Communications Commission announced that it has extended the already-expired deadline for public comments regarding its proposed revisions to Open Internet regulations until September 15.

The move was made, according to the announcement, “to ensure that members of the public have as much time as was initially anticipated to reply to initial comments in these proceedings.”

Last week, FCC Special Counsel for External Affairs Gigi Sohn promised on the Commission blog that “every” (both boldfaced and italicized) one of the over 1.1 million public comments it had already received, will be reviewed as part of the official record. However, Sohn did not specify how this review would take place. Conceivably, this is a big data application if ever there was one.

But another distinct possibility is that the Commission may find itself hiring temporary help simply to handle the deluge of comments it has already received. Extending the deadline once again may have been the most graceful way for the commission to postpone its time of completion for having reviewed all the comments, as Sohn promised.

A check of the FCC’s comment system just minutes after the Commission issued its announcement showed that 10 new comments had already been posted.

Among them was this from a fellow in Richmond, Virginia: “The Internet is a repository of ideas and knowledge and incubator for innovation, and net neutrality is critical to ensuring the free flow of ideas and information. As well, state-granted monopolies are and should be subject to government oversight. In this instance, Internet service providers should not be allowed to discriminate against different content providers. The risks are straightforward and shared by all users of the Internet, while the benefits of such discrimination are only available to service providers, in the form of increased revenue; [to] content providers, in the form of being better able to promote their content; and [to] certain users who want access to the preferred content. The irony is that the Internet is the ultimate free market for ideas, and the service providers wish to profit from their regulation of that marketplace. Don’t cave into this absurdity.”

But on the other end of the spectrum, there was this from a lady in Old Lyme, Connecticut, in support of Chairman Tom Wheeler’s consideration to reclassify Internet services under Title II of the Telecommunications Act: “Reclassifying broadband providers as common carriers will prevent online discrimination as well as protecting consumers. Safeguard the public interest by keeping the Internet free.”

Related Articles:
Latest stage of net neutrality’s war of the words ends with no victors
Net neutrality supporters: Deep packet inspection is a dangerous weapon
Another side of net neutrality: The case in favor of Title II

Read more about: Net Neutrality

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