FCC Website Crashes From Opposition to Net Neutrality Gutting

It seems that American citizens aren’t giving up network neutrality quite so easily. The FCC reportedly received so many comments that the official website crashed.

Late last month, efforts were underway to roll back laws protecting network neutrality in the US. This happened in the wake of Trump rolling back Internet privacy rights. In the wake of revelations that network neutrality would be the next thing rolled back by the government, US ISP’s found themselves on the defensive, promising that they wouldn’t sell users browsing histories for a profit even though the law change would permit them to do so.

The moves aren’t sitting well with some high profile American’s. Late night talk show host John Oliver called on his audience to put a stop to the Chapter II network neutrality rollback initiative. From Deadline:

But, “if it seems too complicated, don’t worry,” Oliver assured. “That’s why we bought the URL ‘gofccyourself.com’,” which he said will take care of Steps 1-5. Use it to tell Pai “you support strong net neutrality backed by Title II oversight of ISP’s,” Oliver said – that last part being really important.

“Do not tell me you don’t have time to do this,” Oliver said, addressing everyone who posted “May the 4th be with you” on Star Wars Day, all those reddit fans of Trump’s who trashed Oliver every time he’s lit into Trump on his show, those 540K who had enough time to comment on Beyonce’s pregnancy announcement, not to mention the 673 people who took the time to review the Grand Canyon on Yelp – seven of whom gave it a one-star review.

“I’m calling on all of you, the Internet time-wasters and troublemakers, to join me in just 5 to 10 minutes of minor effort. I need you to do this. Once more unto the breach, dear friends,” Oliver said, channeling Shakespeare.

Apparently, the initiative worked. According to Demand Progress, the FCC website was so overwhelmed with comments, the website crashed:

The FCC’s comment filing system crashed at length last night after John Oliver aired a segment directing viewers to submit comments to the FCC in support of net neutrality. The filing system has worked only intermittently today.

Those who wish to submit comments may still easily do so, at BattleForTheNet.com, the site that was central to online activism in support of the 2015 net neutrality rules. BattleForTheNet.com is stewarded by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press.

Of course, John Oliver and Demand Progress are not the only ones fighting the network neutrality rollback. According to The Hill, Francis Ford Coppola, director of “The Godfather”, is also opposed to the network neutrality rollback:

“Trusting the leadership of huge corporations with America’s artistic heritage is a crucial mistake, and can already be seen in the ‘monotony’ of contemporary major studio cinema,” the “Godfather” director wrote in a letter given to The Hill by the advocacy group Public Knowledge.

“The Internet was conceived and designed to be a free medium, with network neutrality assured and the resurgent power of big business held in check on behalf of the public’s greater interests.”

Coppola and other critics argue that getting rid of the rules will allow broadband companies to promote or suppress internet content and could hinder free expression on the web.

“The changes you are making at the FCC will only make the fragile balance between artist and businessman more impossible to maintain,” Coppola wrote.

“I assure you that none of the films that I or my contemporaries are known and celebrated for could exist today in such a climate. Please appeal to the artist in yourself to protect us, something the FCC always has done.”

Meanwhile, the EFF (Electronic Frontier Foundation) launched their own public consultation tool:

Today, we’re launching a new tool that will help you craft a unique comment to the FCC: DearFCC.org. Using custom-generated text, we help Internet users develop and submit personal comments to the official docket with just two clicks.

We launched a similar tool in 2014 to help users have a voice, and over a million people used DearFCC to speak out. Now we need your help to defend that victory.

Net neutrality—the right to access all Internet content freely without your Internet provider slowing down or even blocking content at its whim—is fundamental to our democracy. As communities across the United States fight to speak out on contentious political issues, the citizenry needs to know that government-subsidized monopolies like Comcast, AT&T and Verizon aren’t dictating which website we can access. The clear, light-touch rules enacted by the FCC in 2015 are the Internet’s best hope for ensuring we have a free and open Internet.

So, while the FCC may be having problems keeping up with all the comments, it’s looking like things won’t be slowing down for people expressing their own thoughts on the matter. For many American’s, they can only hope that the government will listen on this issue. Whether or not the government is willing to listen remains to be seen, but the effort certainly is there.

Drew Wilson on Twitter: @icecube85 and Google+.

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