By Kuper Jones
Tuesday was supposed to be the filing deadline for comments on the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) regarding the hotly debated topic of so-called “net neutrality.” That deadline, however, has been pushed back to Friday – thanks to a healthcare.gov style breakdown of the FCC’s online comment system. It is almost impossible to overlook the irony here –Chairman Wheeler thinks he knows what is best for the internet, yet the agency he chairs can’t keep their commenting system online for what is arguably the hottest topic the agency has considered – or likely will consider – in years.
The FCC is supposed to be the expert government agency when it comes to technology –almost everything related to technology must first pass through the FCC. Every single new consumer electronic product must be approved by the FCC before it can be sold in stores. The agency handles everything regarding the internet and telecommunications. Despite their expertise, they are unable to keep their commenting system operating properly.
The FCC cites the high volume of comments as the reason for the difficulties. While the number of comments for net neutrality is astronomical, this is an issue that they could have seen coming from a mile away and could have been better prepared. Chairman Wheeler and the commission knew very well that net neutrality is the most talked about issue the agency has ever dealt with. Considering the agency’s Electronic Comment Filing System was created in 1996, which shockingly hasn’t been updated since, the commission should have anticipated problems. Hot on the heels of the botched healthcare.gov rollout, this follows the trend of the Obama administration’s inability to execute good technology policy.
If the FCC’s army of bureaucrats is unable to properly prepare for something as simple as a public commenting period, can we really trust this gang to regulate the internet?