Notice of proposed rulemaking WC docket 17-108 on the Federal Communications Commission’s official record may sound like just another piece of tedious government bueraucracy, but if it eventually becomes a rule, it could change the way we interact with the world forever. And today is one of the last chances the public will get to speak out about it.
In April, FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, a Republican raised to the top seat on the commission by President Donald Trump, proposed WC 17-108, an expansive rollback of the Title II restrictions that forced internet service providers to treat all data as equal, a policy known as net neutrality. Immediately after posting the proposed rulemaking, the FCC’s website flooded with comments — over 8.4 million of them to date — but today is the last chance to add your voice to the first wave of dissent, or support of the new rules.
Until midnight on Monday, July 17, you can file a comment on the FCC’s public website. While one comment out of more than eight million may seem like a grain of sand on a beach, the comments and their sheer volume are all part of the public record that can be used in a prospective court case if Pai and the Republican-majority FCC succeed in passing the rules (the FCC is currently at a 2-1 split Republican vs Democrats, although Democratic commissioner Mignot L. Clyburn isn’t going out without a fight). After that, however, there’s still a chance to speak out — a reply comment period will let the public reply to specific comments until August 16.
If you’re still on the fence, it’s worth considering that nearly every online business and major service — except the ISPs, the corporations that stand to profit from net neutrality’s demise — are unified in their opposition to the FCC. Though conservative media outlets have tried to politicize the fight, outside of the party politicians in Washington, both Republicans and Democrats overwhelmingly support net neutrality and oppose the FCC’s ruling.
If public comments and bureaucracy aren’t your thing, you could always shoot Ajit Pai an email directly, although it won’t be part of the public record. It might just annoy him a little, which would be fitting, as his plan is about to make all of our online experiences that much more frustrating.