FCC Urged To Give People More Time To Weigh In On Net Neutrality

Senate Democrats are urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to give the public additional time to comment on his proposal to roll back the net neutrality rules.

"This proceeding has the potential to impact all Americans and as the expert agency, you should ensure that the Commission provides ample time to ensure all voices are heard," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and 20 other lawmakers say in a letter sent to Pai Thursday.

As of Thursday, the FCC has received more than 13 million comments on Pai's proposal to gut the net neutrality rules by re-classifying broadband as an "information" service. The lawmakers argue that people need additional time to respond to the material that has been submitted so far.

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"Given the unprecedented number of comments, we urge the FCC to extend the reply comment period to allow sufficient time for the public to ensure their views are reflected in the record," the lawmakers write.

The FCC originally set August 16 as the deadline for final comments. The lawmakers are requesting an extension of at least 30 days.

The current regulations, passed by the FCC in 2015, classify broadband as a utility service and impose several common carrier rules on providers -- including bans on throttling and blocking, and on charging higher fees for prioritized delivery. If the FCC votes in favor of Pai's plan to reclassify broadband as an information service, the agency may no longer have the authority to stop broadband providers from throttling or blocking material, or from engaging in paid prioritization.

Earlier this week, a coalition of advocacy groups including Public Knowledge, the ACLU, Consumers Union, World Wide Web Foundation, and the Writers Guild of America West also asked the FCC for additional time for comments. Those groups asked for an eight-week extension.

"The current schedule does not afford interested persons enough time to read and properly consider the record, let alone to prepare their own replies," the groups argue.

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