Americans will be silenced if their comments are not considered before FCC decides on new regulations
Washington, DC – Protect Internet Freedom (PIF) today delivered a coalition letter of more than 30 organizations to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) requesting the agency extend comment periods and refrain from rulemaking in the wake of revelations of a massive backlog of public comments.
On May 12, an FCC spokesperson admitted the agency faced a backlog of 74,000 comment filings across all of the FCC’s proceedings. These backlogs are expected to exist until the implementation of a new electronic filing system.
Unless the extension to the comment period is granted, the FCC will make decisions about regulations that impact millions of Americans without the opportunity to consider the will of the public.
Public comments are a vital component to FCC rulemaking efforts. The comments inform, educate, and guide commissioners. They also inject an important layer of transparency and accountability into agency proceedings.
“It is unfair, unreasonable and un-American that comments submitted using proper channels and received by the FCC well before the agency’s deadline for comments will not have the opportunity to be heard or considered,” said PIF National Director Drew Johnson. “Americans are currently being silenced because of the FCC’s comment backlog, and the FCC should allow these people to have a voice.”
This backlog was exposed following the revelation by PIF that more than 2,200 public comments on the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking regarding broadband consumer privacy regulations remained unposted more than two weeks after their submission to the FCC.
The FCC’s delay in posting comments is unavoidably limiting the length of time those remarks are available to the public, thereby reducing the potential reach and impact of the comments.
The letter, which was endorsed by a broad coalition of think tanks and advocacy organizations, requests that “the comment periods be extended for all proceedings being impacted by the FCC’s overwhelmed electronic comment filing system.”
“Additionally,” the letter continues, “we encourage the FCC to redouble its efforts to ensure that comments are posted in a timely and public manner in the future so that they may have the opportunity to inform commissioners, influence public discourse, and enhance the dialogue surrounding the important decisions undertaken by the agency and its commissioners.”
Protect Internet Freedom is a grassroots, nonprofit organization of 1.6 million supporters dedicated to defending a truly free and open Internet, and preserving it as a tool for democratic distribution of information, societal change, and technological innovation