FCC Net Neutrality Deadline 2014: Comment Period Extended In Wake Of Overwhelming Response

Screens Response to proposed open-Internet rules crashed the FCC’s very old website, so the agency gave us more time.  Reuters file photo

The Internet is not dead yet.

Inundated by an American public anxious about the future of net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday extended the online comment period for its controversial open-Internet proposal.

The 60-day comment period was initially set to end on Tuesday, but a deluge of responses crashed the FCC’s website earlier in the day, prompting the agency to extend the deadline until Friday at midnight. The site, which runs on a platform built in the mid-1990s, was back up and running as of late Tuesday afternoon, but access was slow and spotty.

Kim Hart, the FCC’s press secretary, released the following statement:       

“Not surprisingly, we have seen an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website that is making it difficult for many people to file comments through our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS). Please be assured that the Commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record.”

As of Tuesday, the FCC had received more than 677,000 comments, including statements from consumers groups, free-speech advocates and Silicon Valley giants such as Facebook Inc. (NASDAQ:FB), Twitter Inc. (NYSE:TWTR) and Google Inc. (NASDAQ:GOOG).

The tech firms, in a comment filed Monday by the nonprofit Internet Association, were joined by more than two dozen companies in calling for rules that prevent a system whereby Internet service providers such as Comcast Corporation (NASDAQ:CMCSA) and Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) are allowed to charge companies for faster service -- effectively dividing the Internet into fast and slow lanes.

“Preserving the Internet’s neutrality ensures that it remains an engine for economic growth, innovation, and democratic values,” the group wrote.

The FCC’s proposal, written by Chairman Tom Wheeler, has been fiercely criticized by open-Internet proponents for not explicitly prohibiting companies from paying for faster access. According to a recent survey by Consumer Reports, 58 percent of Internet users oppose paid-priority deals between ISPs and content companies.

If you’re one of those 58 percent, you still have time to weigh in. In addition to using the FCC’s Clinton-era comment-filing system, those wishing to express their thoughts can also do so by emailing openinternet@fcc.gov. According to Hart, emailed comments will also be added to the public record.

Submit a filing here.

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