FCC Temporarily Stops Taking Net Neutrality Comments So FCC Can 'Reflect'

from the reflect-away dept

Okay, let’s be quite clear here: this is not some crazy new thing that the FCC is doing, but it’s important for members of the public to understand what’s happening. As lots of people have been commenting (some of which are fake) on the FCC’s proposed plan to rollback net neutrality, the FCC will be temporarily be shutting down the ability to comment. This is not in response to the fake comments. Nor is it in response to the site being overwhelmed — whether by John Oliver or [snort!] random DDoS attacks that no one else can see. Rather it’s… to give the FCC a moment of peaceful reflection. No really:

Under the Commission?s long-standing rules that apply to all proceedings, all presentations to Commission ?decision-makers? that concern a matter listed on the Agenda are prohibited during what is known as the Sunshine Agenda period. This means that during this brief period of time, members of the public cannot make presentations to FCC employees who are working on the matter, and are likely to be involved in making a decision on it, if the underlying content of the communication concerns the outcome of the proceeding. Thus, for example, during this brief period of time, the Commission?s rules generally prohibit members of the public from submitting comments through the Commission?s website addressing the merits of the Restoring Internet Freedom Notice of Proposed Rulemaking or any other item to be considered at the May 18 meeting. The Commission adopted these rules to provide FCC decision-makers with a period of repose during which they can reflect on the upcoming items.

Apparently, the geniuses at the FCC don’t know how to just not read the incoming comments for a few days. Imagine if other businesses put up signs that said “Please, no emails, I need a period of repose to reflect on upcoming business.” Most people would think that’s crazy. Look, if the FCC wants time alone, it should either just stop looking at the comments for a few days or build a system that holds the comments in transit until the “Sunshine” period is up.

While I’m sure some folks will insist that this is being done to stop the public from commenting, that’s not true. It’s just a dumb rule that the FCC has that it should dump, in part because of just how clueless and out of touch it makes the FCC look.

Meanwhile, if you do still feel the need to comment, the EFF is doing what the FCC itself should do and has set up its own page at DearFCC.org to hold any comments after midnight tonight (when the Sunshine period goes into effect) until comments open up again. That form is useful, though I generally don’t like form mailers that have text that you cannot change, as the EFF’s does (it lets you add in additional comments, but has some permanent text). Update: Strike that, I’m wrong. While it does have some pre-filled text, when you click to the next page you can change all of it, and aren’t limited to their language at all.

Either way: the important thing is this: if you want to add your comments to the record on net neutrality (AND YOU SHOULD), you should get in a comment today or you’ll need to wait a week or so until comments open up again. Meanwhile, since the FCC apparently needs this brief respite to “reflect” on “upcoming items” such as net neutrality, does this mean that we won’t be seeing Ajit Pai or his staffers being quoted in the news and on Twitter mocking those who oppose his plans? Or, is that still allowed while they “reflect”?

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Comments on “FCC Temporarily Stops Taking Net Neutrality Comments So FCC Can 'Reflect'”

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Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

I believe that’s actually what the rule was originally for. No idea if it’s still being followed.

The idea is that while they’re sifting through the data already gleaned, someone can’t come in and derail things by presenting something else. Once they’ve processed what they’ve got, THEN people can make new claims, which will be incorporated later.

It actually makes good sense IMO; I wish more groups did that on non-time-sensitive matters.

Shutting down public feedback is likely to keep things “fair” — although I see no reason why they need to totally block the feedback and not just put it on hold until they’re ready for it again.

Christenson says:

Re: Re: Anachronisms

Dear FCC:
While I do understand the point of the leadership staff rejecting all further input on a matter, so that a well-paid lobbyist can’t walk into the office or make a phone call and influence the decision, which is indeed a good thing, simply shutting down a computer collecting data comes across as silly as Hillary Clinton not being able to use a desktop computer for e-mail, but being able to use a blackberry phone for the same purpose!

Computers are good at remembering what they are told, and not telling anyone until they are asked. Why don’t you take advantage of that and take a snapshot of what you have as of tonight?

Thad (user link) says:

Re: Reflection

They already know exactly what the public thinks, from the 4 million comments they got the last time we had this conversation. They don’t give a damn; the comment period is a farce.

That said, I commented anyway, because a record of just how many people are opposed to this is good grist for the next FCC, and for making congresscritters think twice before they pass any legislative bans on Title II classification.

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