How serious is the FCC about Net Neutrality? According to new analysis of the data the FCC recently released on the public commenting process, about 340,000 lost and/or ignored public comments serious.
A pro-net neutrality group, Fight for the Future, announced a major discrepancy in the number of comments that it helped to submit. The group managed to drive 777,364 commenters to post on the FCC’s commenting forum, with CTO Jeff Lyon noting that “at least 244,811 [comments]” missing from that number, based off numbers recently released by the FCC. As if that weren’t enough, a new Sunlight Foundation study found that 95,000 comments that were released by the FCC were duplicates.
Now here’s why these lost comments matter.
In the first round of discussion on the FCC’s antiquated forum regarding net neutrality, the anti-neutrality comments dominated the discussion and the data set. Half of the total number of comments were likely driven by a “shadowy” organization connected to none other than the Koch Brothers. The data gave the impression that 60% of those who commented opposed net neutrality, and was used by pundits to argue that Americans actually didn’t want net neutrality, a specious claim at best.
What’s scarier still is that the failure point isn’t known; the FCC admitted to Jeff Lyons that nearly a quarter of a million comments were indeed missing from the data that the organization released, leading Lyons to wonder whether the FCC failed to export them, or if they failed to process them.
What is known is that the FCC is a private regulatory body attached to the government, so heads are appointed by elected officials. We the people don’t really have a say what happens in the FCC; the commenting process is our only real way to let the leaders of the organization know how we feel. These missing comments threaten to drown out the voices of the pro-net neutrality groups yet again, rendering them silent.