As the Sony hack makes internet regulation a top priority, startling new revelations about how the FCC handled public comments on net neutrality just came in. 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.
Why does this matter? Well, the Sunlight Foundation study concluded that anti-net neutrality comments dominated the dataset. There was talk of a "shadowy" Koch Brothers group that succeeded in driving half of the total number of comments, leading to the conclusion that some 60 percent of those who commented actually opposed net neutrality. Then, of course, served as fuel for pundits to argue how Americans didn't want net neutrality, which seems incorrect at best.
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?"
Who knows, but it's more clear now than ever that we can't screw up this round of internet regulation. The Sony hacks stand to scare regulators into putting excessive security measures in place, and we know from the leaked data that Hollywood is doing everything it can to make sure the regulations work for them. These comments matter. So let's hope the FCC gets its shit together and finds all the lost comments of hundreds of thousands of concerned American citizens who shouldn't be resigned to just screaming into the void. [Reddit via Boing Boing]
Image by Dan Stuckey