Million-plus comments flood FCC ahead of net neutrality deadline


By Josh Peterson |

WASHINGTON — Over a million comments regarding net neutrality, a formerly niche tech issue spawned by anti-capitalists, flooded the Federal Communications Commission’s inbox ahead of a Friday midnight deadline.

INTERNET WAR: Federal regulators were flooded with over a million comments over its net neutrality decision.

The FCC extended its deadline to midnight Friday for public comments on its net neutrality decision after the commission’s systems were overwhelmed by a “surge” in website traffic Tuesday.

On Thursday, Gigi Sohn, the FCC’s special counsel for external affairs, tweeted, “Specifically, as of noon, 1,030,000 #NetNeutrality comments have been filed at @FCC.”

Sohn is the former president and co-founder of public interest nonprofit Public Knowledge, and a former employee of the influential progressive Ford Foundation.

The Ford Foundation, along with other prominent progressive philanthropic foundations, has been a major financier of the net neutrality movement, funding grants to organizations such as Public Knowledge, Free Press and Fight for the Future.

The movement, whose ultimate goal is to have the federal government regulate Internet service providers as public utilities in the hopes of preventing a future corporate monopoly over the Internet, has drawn the support of major companies such as Google, Facebook and Netflix, who seek to benefit from low Internet service costs.

Service providers and pro-free market economists partially attribute the successful and innovative growth of the Internet to the deregulation of the telecommunications industry in 1996.

Net neutrality advocates have since promoted a flawed understanding of how the Internet works, according to Wired’s Robert McMillan, to generate public support for a new regulatory regime over the Internet.

While companies like Google — who has also been a major financier of pro-net neutrality organizations — and Netflix stand to gain from stricter FCC oversight of Internet service providers, advocates promote a Marxist view of a struggle between the people and corporations.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler encouraged the public to submit comments following the commission’s net neutrality decision to gauge public support for stricter regulations of Internet service providers.

“The unprecedented outcry from nearly a million everyday Americans supporting Net Neutrality makes FCC Chair Tom Wheeler’s choice crystal clear: He can side with the interests of everyday Internet users or telecom companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner,” said Keith Rouda, an organizer with the political action committee Progressive Change Campaign Committee, in a media statement Tuesday.

“The right thing for the FCC to do is to listen to those at and across the Internet who are calling for the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a public utility like water — equally accessible to all,” said Rouda.

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