By Griffin Davis, Communications Intern & Kevin Erickson, Communications Associate
A diverse array of musicians and a wide range of prominent arts and culture organizations have already stood up in support of real net neutrality. If you’re interested in adding your voice to the chorus, here’s some good news: you now have a little extra time.
That’s because the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has announced an extension to its deadline for public comments. Last month, as the initial period for comments was coming to a close, the volume of comments was so intense—by far the most responses to an FCC rulemaking docket ever, as Craig Aaron of Free Press points out—that the FCC servers crashed repeatedly, and the agency was forced to extend the deadline by several days.
Now, because they want to give as much time for the next phase of the process as was originally promised, they’ve extended the reply comments period as well, until Monday, September 15. Here’s what you need to know.
What are Reply Comments?
The FCC is the federal agency charged with regulating and overseeing our nation’s communications infrastructure. When the FCC opens up a formal process for public comment (called a docket) in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking, there are usually multiple phases. The first phase, the initial comment period, has ended. You can read all of the comments submitted thus far on the FCC’s website.
Now we’re in the second phase: the reply comment period. During this phase, parties from all sides of the issue will have the opportunity to respond to comments from the first phase. The reply comment period is crucial to giving the FCC a full understanding of the positions on the issue, and will allow commenters to address issues they missed in their initial filing. Given that these could be the last comments the commission sees, the reply comments could play a major role in their decision.
What Should I Say?
You can refer to arguments made by supporters of the open internet and point out things you agree with. In addition to our own filing, check out this filing submitted by musicians from DIY upstarts to arena-rockers, and all those arts and culture organizations.
And you can refer to arguments made by opponents of Title II reclassification and (politely) explain to the FCC why they’re wrong. (Verizon’s comments, for example, include some real whoppers.)
You don’t need to restrict yourself to replying to just one comment; you can refer to as many as you like. Additionally, you still have the opportunity to raise new arguments about why the open internet is important to you, as a musician, as a consumer, or just as a citizen. They’ll be considered as well.
Quality and quantity of comments both matter. Even a brief note of support for Title II reclassification is helpful; don’t feel like you can’t participate because you don’t have time to write a lengthy missive.
How Do I File?
Just as before, comments can be submitted electronically either through the FCC’s webform or via an email to openinternet [at] fcc [dot] gov. Alternatively, for those who are in the vicinity of an FCC office, physical copies can be hand-delivered directly to the FCC.
As the deadline approaches, we’ll be sharing more info on what’s going in FMC’s reply comments, and giving you some tools to spread the word, and some strategies for more ways to get involved outside of the filing process.
Net Neutrality image by Jona Bechtolt.