IT'S A WEEK on from the net neutrality Day of Action and for the first time, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is showing its hand. And it's not a very helpful one.
First off, it has refused an appeal to extend the deadline for comments after the Day of Action yielded more venom (on both sides) bringing the total to 40,000 comments since June 2015.
Secondly it has denied a request from the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) which demanded that the text relating to complaints against the ISPs it represents be released, citing it as crucial for analysing both its position and that of FCC Chairman and "weed-whacker" advocate Ajit Pai's plan to gut the crap out of net neutrality rules.
This is a bad thing. Sorry, we're not even going to pretend to be on the fence on this one. We're not the BBC. We're not going to sit idly by. This is horseshit. And this is why.
The extension was proposed as a stopgap to give the FCC to comply with the request made under the Freedom of Information Act (plus 60 days).
But the FCC has said it will give a sample of complaint text only. Their excuse for not providing the lot is that, basically, it would be too much of a faff for them.
Again, excuse the rant, but this is a group of people who are proposing to break the internet, forever. The least they could do is be a bit polite about it.
It has also said there will be no extension.
Meanwhile, the NHMC believes that the text of the comments is vital evidence in disproving that Pai's claims that the net neutrality rules as they stand don't actually solve anything.
Ars Technica notes that the point of the comments was to establish any "evidence of actual harm to consumers" if net neutrality were to be removed, or evidence that the internet has improved since the new rules were imposed.
The NHMC points out that those points of order really need to be a matter of public record.
The FCC comments: "We note that Commission staff could have denied NHMC's FOIA request on its face as unreasonably burdensome under the FOIA. In order to release all 47,000 complaints to NHMC, Commission staff would have had to review and redact personally identifiable information from each one of those complaints, which would have been unreasonably burdensome.
"Rather than simply denying the FOIA request, however, the staff has worked diligently with NHMC to provide it with responsive information in a reasonable time frame, while still protecting the personally identifiable information of thousands of consumers."
But the NHMC retorted via special policy advisor Gloria Tristani, who said: "The FCC's denial of our motion is shortsighted, denies the public critical information, and flies in the face of their acknowledgement that they have received over 47,000 open Internet complaints since the 2015 net neutrality rules were enacted.
"It should give the public pause that the agency with exclusive control over regulating Internet service providers refuses to share such information with the public. The information is within the FCC's exclusive control and was completely ignored in the NPRM."
Officially, the comment period ended yesterday. Unofficially, you can still make comments until 16 August. Really, you can still make comments for as long as you like. Don't ever feel it's too late to contribute. You can email: [email protected]. µ
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