Sometimes being the defender of the internet requires braving a rainstorm to hand-deliver a stack of paperwork to the FCC.
Yesterday, a group of about a dozen devoted reddit users gathered at the FCC to deliver a stack of comments in defense of net neutrality. You see, in a twist of irony, the FCC, which wants to regulate the internet, faced a massive server meltdown right at the deadline to submit comments to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, making it impossible to comment online.
“We need D.C. redditors to hand-deliver our FCC comments today — the FCC servers have melted down.”
So reddit users in Washington D.C. took action, told their bosses they needed a long lunch hour and hand-delivered print-out comments to the FCC offices.
“We put up the call for help in /r/washingtondc, and in just a few short hours an impromptu reddit meetup formed outside the FCC building,” the reddit post says. “Many of the redditors took a ‘long’ lunch or just skipped out of work to get there. This was even in the middle of a rainstorm to deliver what was essentially paperwork!”
The FCC did eventually announce they would extend the comment period, but it’s nice to see the Net Neutrality movement is sparking a decidedly grassroots campaign by everyday folks. The reddit community has indicated this is far from the end of their fight.
“Thank you for being the most amazing community on the internet,” the reddit post adds. “Please, a round of applause to /r/washingtondc and everyone else who told their story for the FCC Comment. This isn’t the end of our fight for the internet so stay tuned because we’re working on something bigger!”
Net Neutrality is the idea that the internet should remain open and free from regulation. Recently, ISPs or Internet Service Providers have proposed charging some internet users for “fast lane” service which would have the effect of creating a “slow lane” for the rest of internet users not paying for premium access. After a series of court cases ruled the existing FCC rules to regulate the internet were unconstitutional, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler decided to re-write the rules following a period when everyday Americans could submit their comments.
The result has been a massive groundswell of support from everyday Americans, enough to crash the FCC servers as the deadline to submit comments approached. Read the comments on the FCC website for yourself. According to the New York Times, as of Tuesday, the FCC had received nearly 800,000 comments, far more than any other FCC action has ever generated in the past.