WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.), a member of the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee, and U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), called on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to extend the comment period for its proposal to undo the Open Internet Order and net neutrality protections.
In 2015, the FCC adopted the Open Internet Order which reclassified broadband as a telecommunication service and prohibited internet service providers from setting up internet fast and slow lanes, ensuring all online traffic is treated the same. The D.C. Circuit Court upheld the rules in 2016, but the FCC started efforts to roll back these protections in spring of this year. The FCC allowed a 30 day period in which the public could provide comments and has received over 16 million comments, so far.
“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," the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. "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 letter was led by Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and in addition to Udall and Heinrich, was signed by Senators Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.).
Full text of the letter can be found below and a copy of the letter can be found here. Note that the number of comments has grown since the senators' letter was sent.
August 3, 2017
Dear Chairman Pai:
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) received more than twelve million comments on your proposal to undo the strong net neutrality protections put in place by the Open Internet Order. This volume of comments underscores the tremendous interest the public has in this proceeding. 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.
The FCC currently plans to allow just 30 days for reply comments. Yet in 2014, during the previous net neutrality proceeding, the FCC provided 60 days for Americans to reply. The FCC should follow its own precedent and extend the reply comment period to ensure the fullest spectrum of comments fills the docket in this historic rulemaking.
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.
Thank you for your attention to this important matter.