U.S. Chamber in Scuffle with Public Interest Groups over Deadline to File Net Neutrality Comments at FCC
By Ted Hearn, Editor of Policyband
Washington, D.C., Dec. 9, 2023 – Filing comments at the Federal Communications Commission is a routine matter. But when comments need to be filed can be contentious.
A battle over FCC filing deadlines has sprung up within the context of the FCC’s rulemaking to impose common carrier regulations on broadband Internet Service Providers (ISPs). The FCC is expecting the first round of Net Neutrality comments to arrive no later than Dec. 14 and the second no later than Jan. 17.
According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, that is insufficient time and the deadlines need to be pushed back to Jan. 17 and March 18. But some public interest groups, including Common Cause and Public Knowledge, decided to oppose the Chamber, telling the FCC everyone has had plenty of time to engage with this next chapter in the long-running Net Neutrality saga. The FCC launched the new Net Neutrality rulemaking on Oct. 19.
“Further delay in enacting essential consumer protections for such an essential service would be unwise,” the public interest groups said in a Dec. 8 letter to the FCC. “All interested parties had more than 10 weeks notice that the comments were to be due on December 14, 2023.”
In its Dec. 1 request, the Chamber said it has at least five good reasons for its request for more time, including that “changes both in the judicial landscape and the Internet marketplace merit additional time to allow commenters to provide robust information to the Commission in this rapidly changing marketplace.”
Whether the FCC will grant the Chamber’s request for additional time is unclear. But what is clear, if going by history, is that the FCC will receive plenty of comments – an inundatation probably in the millions.
“Nearly four million comments were filed in the Open Internet Order [in 2015] and around 24 million comments for the Restoring Internet Freedom Order [in 2017],” the Chamber noted in its FCC letter.
So far, the FCC’s docket called “Safeguarding and Securing the Open Internet” has received more than 29,000 comments. Many of the comments are identical and generated on the Battle For the Net website, which is backed by an organization called Fight For The Future.
Fight for the Future was among the public interest groups opposing the Chamber’s request for additional time.