Users Flood FCC with Comments Ahead of Critical Net Neutrality Vote

A sweeping plan to roll back Obama-era rules intended to ensure an open internet has drawn a record number of comments ahead of a critical vote by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

With hours left before the window for public feedback closes on Wednesday, the agency has received nearly 22m comments on "Restoring Internet Freedom," which could dismantle net neutrality rules put in place in 2015. Though many of the comments appear to be from spambots, the effort to ease regulations on internet service providers (ISPs) has drawn widespread criticism from Democrats, consumer advocates and internet companies.

The FCC, led by Republican chairman Ajit Pai, voted in May to start the formal process of unwinding the 2015 rules. Those rules treat regulation of internet more like that of a public utility such as water or electricity and prohibit broadband providers such as Verizon and Comcast from creating a tiered system of access.

Under the current net neutrality rules, it is illegal for companies to offer a high-speed lane to corporations able to pay more or to effectively slow a rival service.

The FCC's proposal asks whether the agency should eliminate the rule banning ISPs from creating fast lanes (or slow lanes) that could favor one service over another, which critics say could allow them to pick winners and losers online. Pai has said the regulations stifle corporate innovation and investment and are not necessary to guaranteeing an "open internet."

Major cable companies have applauded the plan and say they are encouraged by Pai's intention to take a "weed whacker" to the net neutrality rules and replace them with "light touch" regulation.

The proposal has set in motion a complex fight over the future of the internet. This summer, nearly 200 internet companies, including Facebook, Google and Amazon, led an internet-wide day of action to mobilize...

Comments are closed.