Democrat senators are urging the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend the public comment period on its proposal to scrap the net neutrality rules.
Fifteen Democrats led by Sen. Ed MarkeyEd MarkeyOvernight Health Care — White House boosts mask availability Senate Democrats call for investigation into reported price gouging for COVID-19 tests Biden's FDA nominee advances through key Senate committee MORE (Mass.) in a letter Thursday to Republican FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asked that he provide more time for comments, citing the unprecedented number of comments on the rules.
“This volume of comments underscores the tremendous interest the public has in this proceeding,” the senators wrote. “Given the unprecedented number of comments, we urge the FCC to extend the reply comment period to allow sufficient time for the public to ensure their views are reflected in the record.”
To date, Pai's “Restoring Internet Freedom” proposal to roll back Obama-era net neutrality measures aimed at creating a level playing field for internet companies has received more than 16 million comments, more than any other FCC item in history. The previous record happened during the FCC’s last net neutrality proceedings in 2014, in which the public filed about 4 million comments on the matter.
Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz (Hawaii), Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats calls on Biden administration to ease entry to US for at-risk Afghans Schumer opted for modest rules reform after pushback from moderates Sanders, 50 Democrats unveil bill to send N95 masks to all Americans MORE (Ore.) and Al FrankenAlan (Al) Stuart FrankenMeet the Democrats' last best hope of preserving a House majority Franken rules out challenge against Gillibrand for Senate seat Franken targets senators from both parties in new comedy tour MORE (Minn.) were among those signing the letter to Pai.
The lawmakers also noted that the comment period for approving net neutrality in 2014 was 60 days. Pai has only allowed a 30-day comment period for his plan to rollback the rules.
“This proceeding has the potential to impact all Americans and as the expert agency, you should ensure that the Commission provides ample time to ensure all voices are heard,” the senators wrote.
Democratic lawmakers, consumer advocates and internet companies like Reddit and Facebook back the net neutrality rules, while GOP lawmakers and telecom giants like AT&T and Comcast want them scrapped.
Critics say net neutrality has reduced investment in broadband infrastructure and will lead to slower and more expensive internet access for consumers.
Supporters of the rules say scaling them back could give broadband providers too much power over internet content.