99.7% of comments sent to the FCC prior to net neutrality repeal were in favor of keeping the rules
Last month, we told you that the New York Times is suing the FCC under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The newspaper seeks documents that it says will reveal Russian involvement in the suspicious activity surrounding comments requested by the FCC before the agency voted to repeal net neutrality last December. The 22 million comments that were received set a record, and were supposed to be used by the FCC to help it make an informed decision about how to vote.
First, let's back track for a second. Net neutrality is a set of rules instituted during the Obama years that forces ISPs and wireless carriers to treat all streaming content the same. In other words, AT&T would not be allowed to sell Netflix a "fast lane" for its videos. In addition, AT&T wouldn't be allowed to block any streams that contain content the company might disagree with.
When the FCC received comments on net neutrality, many of the 22 million it received were fake. According to The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School, if the millions of form letters and suspicious comments (all making similar points using too similar language) are excluded, only 800,000 comments were legit. And of those comments, 99.7% were against the repeal of net neutrality.
These figures dovetail with other surveys showing that a clear majority of U.S. consumers want net neutrality to return. Recently, California became the third state to pass a net neutrality law. This end run around the FCC upset chairman Pai so much that he called it "illegal," an opinion seconded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The DOJ has sued to prevent the California law from taking effect.
According to the report from The Center for Internet and Society, net neutrality is popular among both Democrats and Republicans, and 56% of independents and undecided voters say that support for the rules would influence how they vote in the upcoming midterms.