A protest campaign in support of net neutrality provisions has overwhelmed the the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) website.
The commission briefly saw its public comments service go down on Monday, one day after comedian John Oliver delivered an extended rant in support of net neutrality on his evening program Last Week Tonight.
In the 13-minute segment, Oliver calls the appointment of former lobbyist Tom Wheeler as FCC chairman "the equivalent of needing a babysitter and hiring a dingo" and, providing a link to the FCC comment page, told the collective internet commenting community to redirect its attentions toward the FCC, saying "Good evening, monsters. This may be the moment you've been training your whole lives for."
It seems that call did not go unheard. Less than 24 hours after Oliver's show aired, the FCC said that its commenting system has been knocked offline.
We’ve been experiencing technical difficulties with our comment system due to heavy traffic. We’re working to resolve these issues quickly.— The FCC (@FCC) June 2, 2014
As of Tuesday afternoon, the system was once again useable, with more than 47,000 comments now viewable to the public. According to Wheeler, the commission has received upwards of 64,400 comment submissions and more than 301,000 emails to its email@example.com email account.
While opening proposed resolutions to public comment is a standard practice for the FCC, the volume of the responses has been – to say the least – highly unusual. By comparison, the FCC lists its second most-commented issue of the last 30 days, the proposed Comcast-Time Warner $45bn merger, received 1,824 comments.
The campaign comes as both the FCC and Congress debate how to move forward with the proposed Open Internet measures, and whether the FCC will allow "fast lane" deals with companies or go so far as to impose neutrality provisions by reclassifying broadband internet as a Common Carrier service. ®