Will the FCC Read All Net Neutrality Comments?

Will the FCC Read All Net Neutrality Comments?
Rhett Pardon

WASHINGTON — The FCC, currently taking comments on a net neutrality proposal, has about 50,000 of them from the public so far.

The comments are intended to influence the FCC's chair and board, which voted three weeks ago to advance new rules that would ban ISPs from blocking or throttling websites but allow them to make deals with content providers for preferential treatment.

The proposals are now open to public comment for 39 more days, followed by another 60 days for replies. The FCC has invited input from all parties on a host of issues, including whether broadband should be reclassified as a public utility, allowing for far-greater regulation.

But with thousands upon thousands of comments already logged, and many more coming through, how in the world will all of them get read and digested?

“All comments are reviewed and read by a team of people who specialize in the area of policy to make sure all viewpoints are accounted for,” FCC spokeswoman Kim Hart told the Wall Street Journal.

Hart said that the FCC's Wireline Competition Bureau, which works to ensure that all Americans have access to robust, affordable broadband and voice services, has been designated to read all of the comments that have been sent via email and the FCC’s website.

A team of about a dozen in the bureau is designated to review comments, she said. Some will be forwarded on to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and commissioners to read directly.

Comments that get flagged and forwarded, she noted, will be ones that offer a particular interesting legal argument or a comment by a company that is directly affected.

The FCC has never received this many comments. The closest number to the net neutrality issue was the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl.

Public comment on the new FCC net neutrality proposal can be made here.

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