FCC Receives a Record Breaking Number of Comments on Net Neutrality

Rafia Shaikh
net neutrality fcc ajit pai

When the tech leaders started calling the public to support net neutrality, we knew there would be a massive support coming in from every corner. Whether you're an Android fanboy or belong to the Apple cult, there was no stopping comments when over 40 major tech companies asked the public to voice their support. Turns out, their efforts weren't futile as over 10.5 million comments have been posted on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website so far.

That's more than twice the comments that were made two years ago when the FCC first considered the net neutrality rules. Now, when the Commission is fixated on rolling back the net neutrality protections, the public seems to be more than fired. While many in the media may like to believe that every tech enthusiast is in the favor of net neutrality, the comments have come from both sides - supporters of the rollback and those who want these hard-won rules to stay.

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A sampling of the comments does, however, confirm that the majority is in favor of net neutrality rules remaining in place. A number of these comments say one thing: "I am in favor of strong net neutrality under Title II of the Telecommunications Act".

However, many fear that these comments or public sentiments won't mean a thing since the Chairman Ajit Pai has already made up his mind. "This is a fight we intend to wage, and this is a fight we are going to win," Pai had said.

Described as the "first amendment of the internet" by some, the net neutrality rules make sure that the internet service providers (ISPs) treat everyone's data equally. Whether it's a major tech company that can afford to pay the carriers to offer their content on priority or for free, or a small new startup just trying to reach the public - users have equal and un-meddled access to all the content.

If rolled back, critics worry that the ISPs will be able to play a game of their own - take money from those who can afford it to block those who can't. An apparent win for major tech companies, but a death for the startup scene. This is why Netflix had stayed back (interesting timeline by The Verge) from speaking against this rollback until it was called out on it. Now, the company along with other major tech players have gathered forces (at least on the front) to oppose this rollback.

Google, Amazon and other tech leaders have said that the ISPs will get too much control over the internet because they will be able to decide what content people are able to access online, making it harder for smaller companies to enter the market.

Public comment period continues on FCC

While there have been over 10 million comments on this proposal, both sides have claimed that fake comments were posted. Reports suggest pro-net neutrality supporters are claiming there are "at least 450,000 fake anti-net neutrality comments", whereas those supporting the overturn have claimed there are over 550,000 fake comments supporting net neutrality.

The Pai-led FCC first introduced a proposal earlier this year to roll back these rules, with the first public comment period ending on Monday. The rebuttal period will allow more comments until August 16. As we have seen in the past couple of years, every major event has been politically divided. Regardless of where you find yourself in this game of black and white thrones, do voice your thoughts on the FCC website that's still accepting public comments.

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