FCC pushes back deadline for comments on Internet 'fast lanes'

 

The Federal Communications Commission is giving companies, public interest groups and concerned citizens more time to voice their concerns about the agency’s plans to rewrite its net neutrality rules.

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After receiving over 670,000 comments by Tuesday, the FCC announced that it would extend the deadline for comments until midnight on Friday, citing technical issues with the agency’s comment system as the original deadline on Tuesday neared.

“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 our Electronic Comment Filing System,” an FCC spokeswoman said in a statement.

“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 agency is accepting comments as it considers how to rewrite its net neutrality rules, which kept Internet providers from blocking or slowing access to certain websites before they were struck down by a federal court in January.

FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler created massive interest in the issue earlier this year when he unveiled his controversial plan to rewrite the rules, which could allow Internet providers to charge websites for better access to users.

Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Calif.) applauded the decision to leave open the comments for a few extra days.

“Given the record public interest, I am pleased that the FCC decided to offer Americans additional time to share their voices on the net neutrality proposal,” she said in a statement.

She urged “all Americans who care about the future of the open Internet to share their views with the FCC.”

“Our country cannot afford so-called Internet fast lanes or special paid prioritization agreements,” she said.

“We need strong net neutrality protections in place that truly preserve a free and open Internet.”