More than 10 million people flooded the FCC with net neutrality comments

The Federal Communications Commission has a lot of reading to do if the agency wants to take the commenting period on net neutrality seriously. After introducing a proposal in May to roll back existing rules that were implemented in 2015 under the previous administration, the FCC opened the subject up to public comments. So far it has collected over 10 million opinions.

That is a new record and also twice as many comments as were filed two years ago when the FCC proposed the existing rules regulating the internet as a utility. According to CNET, around 2 million of the current comments were filed last week when thousands of activists, technology firms, and individuals participated in a massive online campaign called "Day of Action," which was essentially an internet protest to "save net neutrality" and drum up support for keeping current rules in place.

It is no coincidence that millions of comments were filed in the days following the campaign. Companies that participated in the event attempted to educate the public from the perspective that net neutrality rules as currently constructed are beneficial to consumers.

"We know we don't have the votes on the FCC right now to protect the rules," said Gigi Sohn, a former aide to the previous FCC chairman, Tom Wheeler. "But there is a small chance that if we get enough public opinion out there that we could stop the FCC from doing what it wants to do."

Sohn is probably being overly optimistic in her assessment. Barring a much bigger protest, the FCC is likely to proceed with its proposal to roll back net neutrality rules. FCC chairman Ajit Pai has long opposed regulating the internet like a utility and once called it a "mistake" to do so. Given that this is a partisan issue, fielding comments from the public feels more like a formality than an actionable means of change.

That said, sharing your opinion with the FCC is one of the few things you can do, no matter which side of the debate you are on. And there is still time to do so—while the initial public commenting period ended this past Monday, the FCC will collect more opinions during a rebuttal period that runs until August 16.

Paul Lilly

Paul has been playing PC games and raking his knuckles on computer hardware since the Commodore 64. He does not have any tattoos, but thinks it would be cool to get one that reads LOAD"*",8,1. In his off time, he rides motorcycles and wrestles alligators (only one of those is true).