A surge in traffic to the FCC’s website on Tuesday has compelled the agency to extend its deadline for filing comments on a proposal to establish rules of the road for the Internet, otherwise known as net neutrality.
The deadline had been on Tuesday, but an FCC spokeswoman said that the new deadline will be on Friday, July 18 at midnight.
“Not surprisingly, we have seen an overwhelming surge in traffic on our website that is making it difficult for many people to file comments” through the FCC’s electronic filing system, said spokeswoman Kim Hart. “Please be assured that the commission is aware of these issues and is committed to making sure that everyone trying to submit comments will have their views entered into the record.”
The FCC is taking comments via its Electronic Comment Filing System or at email@example.com. An FCC spokesman said that as of late afternoon on Tuesday, they had received about 780,000 comments.
The FCC’s system also slowed in the aftermath of a segment on HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” in which host John Oliver urged viewers to weigh in on net neutrality. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler has urged Congress to provide funding to upgrade the FCC’s IT infrastructure, and other commissioners have also complained about its site.
Among the companies filing comments on Tuesday was Mozilla, which reiterated their proposal in which the FCC would define only a part of the Internet as a telecommunications service. Their proposal would classify the local access networks offered to “edge providers,” or sites like Netflix and Dropbox, as separate services. Mozilla argues that such a move would give the FCC the kind of firm legal footing it needs to adopt rules to prohibit Internet providers from blocking or discrimination, as well as from entering into deals for paid prioritization.
Mozilla also argues that the rules should apply to both wired and wireless providers.
Major portions of the FCC’s previous net neutrality rules were struck down by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in January, forcing the commission to come up with a new approach. The D.C. Circuit did outline one way to do so, in which the FCC would prohibit blocking and discrimination that is “commercially unreasonable.” But Mozilla and other Internet firms argue that such an approach would be too weak to prevent Internet providers for essentially charging them for speedier access to the consumer.
While groups like the Writers Guild of America have argued that the FCC should also move toward reclassification, Hollywood studios are staying silent for now. A spokesman for the MPAA said that they would not be filing comments.