The Federal Communications Commission received so many comments on net neutrality Tuesday that its site crashed, making it necessary to extend the public comment period until midnight on Friday.
Open Internet advocates were not surprised that the FCC’s controversial proposal, which would allow Internet service providers to create so-called “fast lanes” for companies that can afford the extra fees, garnered so much feedback. And grassroots organizations believe the unprecedented public response—more than 780,000 comments filed as of Tuesday afternoon—bolsters their cause.
“In close to a decade of fighting for the open Internet, I’ve never seen more awareness and enthusiasm about this issue,” said Free Press president and CEO Craig Aaron in a statement. “Millions of Internet users have flooded the agency with support for real net neutrality. And almost no one outside FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s office is advocating for his pay-to-play proposal.”
In response to the website malfunction, more than a dozen advocacy groups and Internet companies including the ACLU, Common Cause, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Mozilla, and reddit, hand-delivered more than 1,000 comments to FCC headquarters Tuesday afternoon.
Also on Tuesday, 13 U.S. senators sent a letter to the FCC that read, in part:
At issue today is how the FCC should use its authority to keep the Internet open for business. We remain concerned that the Commission’s recent notice of proposed rulemaking suggests approaches that could undermine the openness of the Internet. Because the item tentatively concludes that Internet service providers would be allowed to offer faster delivery times for websites, applications or services that pay for it, the Commission’s proposal could fundamentally alter the Internet as we know it.