The tech policy community has momentarily banded together to nail the Federal Communications Commission to the wall over what seems to be a big data meltdown regarding hundreds of thousands of public comments the agency received regarding its Net Neutrality deliberations.
New analysis of the data the FCC recently released about the process shows that the agency lost and/or ignored a whole bunch public comments. How many is a whole bunch? Oh, about 340,000.
Fight for the Future, a pro-net neutrality group, just announced a pretty major discrepancy in the number of comments it helped submit. In total, the organization helped drive 777,364 commenters to post on the FCC’s antiquated comment site. Fight for the Future CTO Jeff Lyon says that “at least 244,811 [comments] were missing from the data” recently released by the FCC. On top of that, a new Sunlight Foundation study found that 95,000 of the comments the FCC did release were duplicates.
The Sunlight Foundation admitted that there were some discrepancies in the data. The FCC also admitted to Jeff Lyons that nearly a quarter of a million comments were indeed missing from the data it released. Lyons wondered, “As of right now, the failure point is still unclear: Did the FCC simply fail to export these comments, or did they actually fail to process them in the first place?”
While we don’t yet know the answer to Lyons’ question, we do know that pro-Net Neutrality groups were nervous about the pro/con comment breakdown. The Sunlight Foundation released a report accusing “[a] shadowy organization with ties to the Koch Brothers” of skewing the results with a form letter writing campaign, causing pro-NN groups and tech bloggers to cry foul.
Why? Probably because conservatives absolutely crushed them when the final comment tally rolled around.
According to @SunFoundation, 60% of reply comments in FCC's net neutrality proceeding OPPOSE more regulation.
— Matthew Berry (@matthewberryfcc) December 16, 2014
Now we’re in a situation where pro-NN groups are demanding that both the FCC and Sunlight conduct a comment recount which, well…
If you believe any "recount" of net neutrality reply comments, I have a fast lane on a bridge in Brooklyn to sell you. @kerpen
— Matthew Berry (@matthewberryfcc) December 19, 2014
Only two possibilities:
1. FCC is cheating to collude with liberals to expand their own power.
2. FCC is totally and completely incompetent.
— Phil Kerpen (@kerpen) December 19, 2014
Comments submitted to the FCC don’t determine policy; pro-NN groups know this, but they’re going to push forward with this recount theory anyway, because for them, this is all about optics. They obviously believed that they were organized enough to carry the issue to Congress, and ignored groups like American Commitment and TechFreedom, who are using fantastic infographics, videos, and blog posts to explain how Net Neutrality will affect internet users at every level.
Pro-NN groups also know that if the public gets a taste of what Net Neutrality means for the future of the internet, they won’t be happy with what they’re hearing.
[Point of interest: “Shadowy” group American Commitment is anything but. The group is led by Phil Kerpen, who previously worked with the (Koch-funded!!!) Americans for Prosperity Foundation, Club for Growth, and Cato, shows up to hang out at just about every conservative gathering on the book, and shares his work regularly with bloggers and other conservative politicos. So shadowy!]DONATE
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