Hundreds of Thousands Speak Out for Net Neutrality as Public Comment Deadline Nears

WASHINGTON, July 15 – Ahead of a deadline today for public comment on a Federal Communications Commission proposal to end net neutrality, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said the FCC rule change “would be a boon to the largest corporations in America and a blow to small businesses and start-up entrepreneurs.”

Nearly 700,000 public comments had flooded the FCC by the day before the deadline and the commission’s own website was so overloaded on Tuesday that the public comment form was at times unusable.

Sanders for the past two months had asked Vermonters and others to share their views about net neutrality.  Those efforts alone resulted in more than 40,000 comments.  “They told the FCC loudly and clearly that we must retain net neutrality and that is exactly what we must do.”

The comments criticized the FCC proposal that would allow big corporations to negotiate deals for access to Internet “fast lanes” while small businesses would be treated as second-class citizens on the Internet. 

 “The end of net neutrality would be an attack on the free expression of ideas and our democratic form of society,” Sanders said. “The American people understand that the Internet has been an enormous success in fostering innovation and enabling free and open speech across the country and throughout the world.  Allowing for ‘fast lanes’ would change the fundamental architecture of the Internet. It would remove the neutrality that’s been in place for decades and allow big corporations to control content online.”

Sanders also appeared at a news conference today with Sen. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) and other senators who called on the commission to reclassify Internet access as a telecommunications service. In a letter from the senators to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, the lawmakers urged commissioners to “prevent broadband providers from creating Internet fast lanes for those who can pay, leaving others stuck in traffic.”