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Groups accuse FCC of helping net neutrality advocates file comments

Grant Gross | Oct. 3, 2014
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission engaged in the worst kind of "partisan politics" by working closely with net neutrality advocates to ensure their comments were filed with the agency, but not extending the same courtesy to the other side, a coalition of groups opposed to the regulations said in a sharply worded letter to the agency.

The FCC received more than 3.7 million public comments on its net neutrality proposal, by far a record number of comments in an FCC proceeding, with a large number of the comments favoring new rules. American Commitment, one of the groups signing Thursday's letter, submitted more than 800,000 comments opposed to a government "takeover" of the Internet before the FCC's deadline.

Many of the comments generated during the Sept. 10 Internet slowdown protest called on the FCC to reclassify broadband as a regulated public utility, a position that conflicts with FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal to pass a narrower set of net neutrality rules that could allow broadband providers to engage in "commercially reasonable" traffic management.

The FCC's work to make sure comments were filed resulted in a "completely lopsided media narrative describing a groundswell of public support" for the FCC reclassifying broadband as a regulated, common carrier service, the conservative groups said.

The conservative groups' objections amount to "a conspiracy theory trying to undermine the millions of regular people who are speaking out to support open Internet and an FCC trying to deal with an antiquated computer system," said Marvin Ammori, a lawyer who serves on the boards of net neutrality advocates Fight for the Future and Demand Progress.

"The FCC would've worked with anyone," Ammori said by email. "Essentially they wanted us not to crash their system and we worked with them to figure out how not to crash their system but to still get the comments in. Their technology isn't designed to take so many comments."

 

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