Last year, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) famously botched the record-breaking public comment period on net neutrality thanks to its crappy technology. Now, the agency has launched a slick new system that suggests this won't happen again. Too bad they're about eight months late to updating the technology.
The new, easy-to-navigate site (a.k.a. the Consumer Help Center) makes filing a complaint about an FCC-related issues a two-click process. One quick glance back at the old site shows how much of an improvement the facelift offers. Citizens can also easily learn about common issues the FCC faces and file complaints directly from those articles. The streamlined process is not unlike filing a customer service complaint. That makes total sense because the new FCC site's source code reveals that the system is powered by Zendesk, a one-shop for customer service needs. The new FCC Consumer Help Center is different than the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System which handled the net neutrality comments, but more on that in a second.
The new site is pictured at the top of this post. It includes separate links for six main areas of interest: TV, phone, internet, radio, accessibility and emergency services. The FCC says the new system is designed to spot trending concerns before they become big problems. Regardless of what's happened on the back end, the site itself is a huge improvement over the old front page:
The above image is actually a nicer part of the FCC's web presence, too. This is what the Electronic Comment Filing System—not to be confused with the new Consumer Help Center—looked like when the net neutrality commenting period opened:
This is all good news—fingers crossed. If the new FCC complaint system's back end got as much of an upgrade as the front-facing site, there's a chance that the days of the FCC mysteriously losing hundreds of thousands of comments or simply crashing for days at a time are over. There's a chance the public's comments might actually get to matter. The bummer, of course, is that the public comment period for net neutrality ended months ago, and this new site only accepts complaints, not public comments on FCC activity.
Update (6:45 pm): An earlier version of this post implied that the new FCC Consumer Help Center is the same as the FCC's Electronic Comment Filing System. In fact, the two are separate sites. The Consumer Help Center helps citizens file complaints. The Electronic Comment Filing system lets consumers file public comments into an official FCC proceeding. It's unclear if the FCC will apply the new technology to the older public comment site.