- The Washington Times - Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Federal Communications Commission was forced to extend its deadline Tuesday for public comment on proposed rules for Internet “fast lanes” when a surge of comments caused the website to fail.

The deadline, originally set for midnight Tuesday, was moved to midnight Friday, which FCC officials hope will give more people the chance to voice their opinions on the latest proposal for broadband regulation, Politico reported.

The proposal, led by Chairman Tom Wheeler, has become steeped in controversy, with net neutrality advocates across the country criticizing the commission for proposing rules that would allow Internet service providers to charge online companies for increased speeds and access to consumers.

“The unprecedented outcry from nearly a million everyday Americans supporting net neutrality makes FCC Chair Tom Wheeler’s choice crystal clear: He can side with the interests of everyday Internet users or telecom companies like Comcast, AT&T, Verizon, and Time Warner. The right thing for the FCC to do is to listen to those at NoSlowLane.com and across the Internet who are calling for the FCC to reclassify the Internet as a public utility like water — equally accessible to all,” said Keith Rouda, an organizer for the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

But Mr. Wheeler has stated that the arguments against the new proposal are skewed and that the new rules would not allow for any type of unfair advantage among Internet-service providers, calling the criticisms “flat-out wrong.”

“I strongly support an open Internet. This agency supports an open Internet,” Mr. Wheeler said during an FCC meeting in May. “There is one Internet — not a fast Internet, not a slow Internet, one Internet.”

Commissioner Ajit Pai brought the issue to light in an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal in which he criticized the proposal. Mr. Pai has also spoken out against the Commission’s treatment of the proposal, alleging that the draft was circulated among the commissioners at the last minute, not allowing enough time for commissioners to comments before a vote to move the proposals forward for public comment.

During the May meeting, Mr. Pai said the FCC had abused its power, spending too much time “speaking at the American people, instead of making recommendations to them.”

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