99.7% Of Original Comments Opposed FCC Repeal Of Net Neutrality

from the not-so-democratic dept

A new study has once again confirmed that the vast, vast majority of the public opposed the FCC's ham-fisted repeal of net neutrality.

Like most government proceedings, the FCC's net neutrality killing order's public comment period was filled will all manner of comments (both in favor and against) generated by automatic letter-writing campaigns. Like most government proceedings in the post-truth era, the net neutrality repeal was also plagued by a lot of shady gamesmanship by companies trying to disguise the fact that the government was simply kissing the ass of giant, unpopular telecom monopolies. But what happens if you eliminated all of the letter-writing campaign and bogus bot-comments?

A new report from Stanford University (pdf) did just that. It eliminated all automated or form-generated comments and found just 800,000 Americans willing to take the time to put their own, original thoughts on the net neutrality repeal into words. And of those 800,000 real people, 99.7% of them opposed what the FCC did:

"The unique comments are overwhelmingly in support of retaining the protections of the 2015 Open Internet Order. A manual analysis of 1,000 of these comments showed that 99.7% of the comments opposed the repeal."

That's not to say that form-letters opposed to the repeal should be ignored; millions of angry Americans voiced their concerns via form letter campaigns operated by (actual) consumer groups like Public Knowledge, Free Press, and the EFF. Previous analysis has indicated that even among these form letters, the vast majority opposed Ajit Pai's assault on meaningful consumer protections. Even studies funded by ISP-backed lobbying organizations have come to this same conclusion, making the FCC's claims that everybody supported its attack on net neutrality even more patently absurd.

Meanwhile, like countless surveys before it, the Stanford report also once again notes that this opposition was largely bipartisan in nature, coming from heavily "red" and "blue" districts alike:

"Polls have consistently shown that net neutrality protections are popular across party lines. This is supported by the geographical breakdown of the comments. While the highest number of unique comments come from traditionally Democratic urban districts, the average number of comments in all districts was 1,489, with an average of 1,202 in Republican-held districts"

Again, that's in stark contrast to claims that people "don't understand what net neutrality is" or that this somehow isn't an important issue to voters. Most Americans have pretty direct, first-hand experience of what it's like to deal with an apathetic broadband monopoly, whether it's AT&T, Verizon, Comcast, or Charter. As such, disgust at these companies is one of the very few things that bridges the country's deep, partisan divides. And most realize then letting Comcast abuse a broken, uncompetitive market doesn't end well for consumers or competitors alike.

Past analysis has suggested about half of the 22 million comments submitted to the FCC were likely fake, and somebody utilized a bot and hacked databases to flood the FCC with fake support for the FCC's plan. The GAO, New York State AG, and numerous lawsuits are still busy trying to get to the bottom of the obvious effort to try and drown out legitimate opposition with no real help from the FCC, which was eager to ignore the entire mess for what should be obvious reasons.

Filed Under: ajit pai, comments, fcc, internet, net neutrality, public concern

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  1. icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 16 Oct 2018 @ 8:44am

    Contrast with Broadband for America's methodology:

    If you just exclude the comments from real people who wrote their own comments but protected themselves from scraping criminals by using an ephemeral email address as illegitimate, and you treat every bot-subnitted comment as legitimate so long as its stolen credentials are valid, then suddenly the overwhelming oppositition magically turns into 70% support for PaiSP's Reinforcing Internet Fuckery order.

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