The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has denied the public critical information, and flies in the face of their acknowledgment that they have received over 47,000 open Internet privacy complaints since the 2015 net neutrality rules were enacted. The National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC) filed a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in may of this year to obtain the complaints, claiming seeing the feedback of impacted customers is necessary to understand the impact of the FCC’s decision to scrap the rules.
The FCC’s Consumer and Governmental Affairs Bureau reportedly reviews the complaints before sending them to the Internet providers. Companies have 30 days to respond to customers and the commission. The initial comment deadline on the net neutrality proceeding passed yesterday. Officially, the FCC will take reply comments until August 16, but it’s possible to make filings after that.
“NHMC is free to address the relevance of any additional documents to this proceeding in its reply comments or in ex parte filings, as the docket in this proceeding does not close when the comment cycle has ended,” the FCC said.
But according to the NHMC,
” These questions seek evidence that the commission holds in its exclusive possession,” the NHMC said in its motion for a delay.
Not too surprisingly, Pai’s FCC is blocking the release of these complaints, insisting that providing public access to the complaints would be “unreasonably burdensome.” The NHMC, also unsurprisingly, isn’t particularly impressed with the agency’s justification for withholding the internet privacy complaints:
“The FCC’s denial of our motion is shortsighted, denies the public critical information, and flies in the face of their acknowledgment that they have received over 47,000 open Internet privacy complaints since the 2015 net neutrality rules were enacted. It should give the public pause that the agency with exclusive control over regulating Internet service providers refuses to share such information with the public. The information is within the FCC’s exclusive control and was completely ignored in the NPRM.”If you’ve been playing along at home, refusing to release valid user complaints outlining genuine net neutrality concerns runs in line with the agency’s attempts to downplay public opposition to its proposal. That has also included turning a blind eye to fraud and abuse of the FCC’s comment system, which is currently being filled with bot-crafted industry “support” for the FCC’s tone-deaf plan. The goal, consistently, has been to downplay public support for net neutrality, while pushing the illusion that repealing the rules is anything more than a giant, shameless gift to AT&T, Comcast and Verizon.
And while AjitPai clearly thinks he can bulldoze his way through transparency and operational apathy concerns, these are all certain to come up again during the inevitable lawsuits against the agency — all of which will highlight how Pai and friends blatantly ignored the public interest to the exclusive benefit of a handful of extremely-unpopular duopolists.
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