FCC: Nearly 700,000 net neutrality comments missing from public download

The Federal Communications Commission is trying to clear up confusion about its trove of public comments on new net neutrality rules by saying on Tuesday that it found nearly 680,000 comments that were not transferred to a public database.

The missing comments were included among the nearly 4 million public comments the agency has previously reported receiving over the contentious rules — the most in its history — but were absent in a bulk document containing the comments that was released for the public to analyze.

{mosads}According to the FCC, the comments’ absence from the public file is due to the fact that the agency’s commenting system is 18 years old and was not built to receive millions of comments about controversial subjects that capture national attention.

“This forced the commission’s information technology team to cobble solutions together MacGyver-style,” FCC officials Gigi Sohn and David Bray wrote in a blog post Tuesday.

The absence of the comments in the file opened a new front in the fight over new Web rules in recent days. 

The discrepancy was first noticed by the Sunlight Foundation, which found that about 60 percent of the most recent batch of comments were against new net neutrality rules. Supporters of tough rules took issue with that figure, claiming that many comments were missing. 

While the comments were missing from the bulk file, however, the FCC said that they were nonetheless received by agency officials and are still searchable through the online comment system.

The FCC’s outdated commenting system has long been a complaint of officials, advocates, executives and journalists who have a difficult time navigating the system.

A new set of files containing the full comments will be released at some point after the New Year’s holiday, the agency said.  

Tags Federal Communications Commission Net neutrality Network neutrality

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