Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

The FCC Ignored Virtually All Public Feedback on Their Proposed Net Neutrality Rollback

Jacob Kastrenakes, the Verge:

The FCC received a record-breaking 22 million comments chiming in on the net neutrality debate, but from the sound of it, it’s ignoring the vast majority of them. In a call with reporters yesterday discussing its plan to end net neutrality, a senior FCC official said that 7.5 million of those comments were the exact same letter, which was submitted using 45,000 fake email addresses.

But even ignoring the potential spam, the commission said it didn’t really care about the public’s opinion on net neutrality unless it was phrased in unique legal terms. The vast majority of the 22 million comments were form letters, the official said, and unless those letters introduced new facts into the record or made serious legal arguments, they didn’t have much bearing on the decision. The commission didn’t care about comments that were only stating opinion.

There is strong public support for the net neutrality rules in place today that prevent ISPs from prioritizing some kinds of traffic over others, yet the FCC didn’t care. Perhaps public commentary shouldn’t outweigh expert opinion — which, by the way, tends to side with Title II proponents — but perhaps it should also be considered by the FCC as an indication that what they’re proposing is disagreeable to Americans. They can correct course. Remember when previous FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler released his first draft of a proposal to allow “fast lanes”? That was met with public outcry; so, the commission listened and changed course. Pai could do that, but he won’t.

By the way, the FCC isn’t cooperating with the New York Attorney General’s investigation into those spam comments, many of which involved the theft or imitation of Americans’ identities.