FCC Comment Filing System Flooded

WASHINGTON—The Federal Communications Commission said mid-day on Monday that it had experienced a number of denial of services attacks that bogged down the Electronic Comment Filing System, but it mentioned neither a cause nor a correlation with a call to action on network neutrality made Sunday evening by HBO’s John Oliver, who directed viewers to a comment shortcut.

The current network neutrality docket, No. 17-108, was opened April 26, 2017 and had 215,579 comments as of 5:30 p.m. Eastern May 8—12 days in. Between Sunday, May 7, and Monday, May 8, the ECFS registered 146,351 total comments, with most going to the net neutrality docket. By comparison, the ECFS averaged 5,771 comments per day last week, and again, most were on the net neutrality docket. Before the 17-108 docket was opened, during the week of April 16 to 21, the ECFS shows 262 total comments.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai opened the latest net neutrality docket to roll back the reclassification of internet service providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act versus Title I information services. The FCC under Pai’s predecessor, Tom Wheeler, reclassified ISPs under Title II in early 2015 on a directive from the Obama Administration, with Pai and his Republican colleague, Michael O’Rielly, dissenting. The purpose of the reclassification was to impose network neutrality—the concept that the network provider remains statutorily neutral toward the content on its network, regardless of the amount of volume involved.

Network neutrality became an issue in 2007 after Comcast was caught throttling BitTorrent. The FCC ordered Comcast to stop and the cable conglomerate sued in federal court, winning 3-0 in 2010. The FCC then established voluntary tenants to prevent throttling, or limiting the bitrate of an online content provider. A proposed rulemaking followed and languished until May of 2014, when Wheeler proposed a sort of hybrid net neutrality by allowing ISPs to create “fast lanes” for high-bandwidth users. Even that riled the net neutrality crowd, and full reclassification prevailed.

Pai said the Title II vote gave the FCC the “power to micromanage virtually every aspect of how the Internet works. It’s an overreach that will let a Washington bureaucracy, and not the American people, decide the future of the online world.”

“The courts will ultimately decide this Order’s fate,” Pai said in his dissent. The court did indeed uphold the Title II ruling in June of last year and denied a rehearing May 1. Pai responded that, “In light of the fact that the commission on May 18 will begin the process of repealing the FCC’s Title II regulations, it is not surprising, as Judges Srinivasan and Tatel pointed out, that the D.C. Circuit would decide not to grant the petitions for rehearing en banc.” He said the decision affirmed FCC authority to reclassify ISPs as Title I information providers.

Between 5:30 and 7:05 p.m. Eastern on Monday, another 29,229 comments were filed on the network neutrality docket, No. 17-108.

Also see…
Feb. 4, 2015

Wheeler Brings Down Net Neutrality Hammer
“Using this authority, I am submitting to my colleagues the strongest open Internet protections ever proposed by the FCC,” Wheeler wrote in an op-ed at Wired“These enforceable, bright-line rules will ban paid prioritization, and the blocking and throttling of lawful content and services. I propose to fully apply—for the first time ever—those bright-line rules to mobile broadband.”

Nov. 12, 2014
Network Neutrality Rift Reaches Epic Proportions
The president and his man in charge of the Federal Communications Commission this week split the sheet on net neutrality. On Monday, President Obama called for the federal reclassification of broadband networks to make regulating them less of a legal minefield. 

Sept. 1, 2009
“FCC Chairman Plans to Proffer Network Neutrality
FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski is making the opening volley of his nationwide broadband plan a doozey.