UPDATE, 3:10 PM PT: The FCC said it received about 3.7 million comments as of midnight Monday, the close of the official comment period on net neutrality. That makes final the record number of responses, topping even those comments after Janet Jackson’s infamous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show “wardrobe malfunction.”
PREVIOUS, MONDAY, 4:16 PM PT: Comments will continue to flood into the FCC up to midnight ET, the deadline for public input on its controversial open Internet proposal. But at 3M this afternoon, the number of responses has more than doubled since late last week. And that lower number beat the record for FCC comments set after Janet Jackson’s famous 2004 Super Bowl halftime show “wardrobe malfunction.” The FCC will continue to hear different views about its net neutrality policies at a series of roundtables that begin tomorrow.
The main issue is whether the FCC should reclassify the Internet as a phone-like communications service, which the government has clear authority to regulate, or continue to define it as an information service, where officials have limited power. The agency approved a proposal by Chairman Tom Wheeler that stops short of reclassification. Net neutrality advocates say it’s insufficient because it would allow Internet service providers to provide speedier transmissions of favored content under some circumstances. In any case, the agency wants to wrap up the issue soon. “One way or another, we could have clarity on this issue as early as Q1 ’15,” says Wells Fargo Securities’ Marci Ryvicker.
The National Cable and Telecommunications Association was one of the groups that weighed in with comments today opposing reclassification. That would “destroy the Internet’s dynamism and dramatically reduce rather than increase broadband investment and innovation,” it says. The current arrangement gives the FCC sufficient power to “prevent anticompetitive paid prioritization arrangements that would create “fast lanes” and “slow lanes” on the Internet.” It also opposes a requirement for ISPs to disclose more information about the quality of their transmissions. Citing a filing from Verizon, the cable group says that a service’s “speed, latency, jitter, and other core characteristics…would be meaningless to all but the most technically sophisticated customers.”
The WGA West reiterated its call for reclassification. “There is a political issue here that transcends the seemingly technical debate about rules for the Internet,” president Chris Keyser says. “Free speech and fair competition are fundamental American values that currently flourish on the open Internet. Our protection of these values must mirror our rhetoric. The FCC must reclassify Internet services in order to promote these values and limit monopoly power.”
The filing also had comments from WGAW members including Peter Knight (BoJack Horseman), Robin Schiff (Romy And Michele’s High School Reunion), Christopher J. Smith (My Dad’s Tapes), Jay Bushman (The Lizzie Bennet Diaries), and Issa Rae (The Misadventures Of Awkward Black Girl).