updated 02:46 pm EDT, Tue July 15, 2014
New deadline gives public 72 more hours to comment on proposed changes
The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has extended the first deadline for public comment on the controversial "fast lane" net neutrality proposal. The extension, following a major crash of the nearly two-decade old comment system, extends through midnight on June 18. A second "reply comment" period will start after this period ends, however.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler's proposal for net neutrality prevents companies from downgrading Internet traffic in their own favor, but also opens up the opportunity for Internet service providers to charge extra for faster content delivery, codifying such deals as those penned by Netflix with Comcast and Verizon. Changes have been made since the initial leak, with Wheeler claiming that the FCC will not tolerate actions by ISPs that "degrade the service for all for the benefit of a few."
The chairman has threatened to regulate the Internet under "common carrier" laws, should the ISPs fail to abide by regulations set forth by the FCC, or if they abuse the "fast lane" concept in any way. The commissioners passed the proposal 3-2, launching the public comment period.
Before the crash, the FCC site listed less than one third of the previously-recorded comments. Regarding the decrease in comments, and the outage, FCC press secretary Kim Hart said in a statement that "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. 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."