Policy

Sunlight: Anti-Net Neutrality Comments Dominate Second Round

Attributed Almost Entirely to Complaints Generated by American Commitment 12/16/2014 2:00 PM Eastern

The Sunlight Foundation's analysis of the second batch of network neutrality comments released by the FCC in October found that it was dominated by opponents to net neutrality rules, but Sunlight also says that was due to the docket's inundation by form letters orchestrated by a single group. 

 

Its analysis back in September of the first round of comments, which the FCC released in August, found that less than 1% of the comments were clearly opposed to net neutrality, with at least 60% of the comments from form letters, though it said that volume was actually low for "high-volume" regulatory dockets, which certainly describes the FCC net neutrality docket. It had more than 4 million comments, a record for the commission.

 

In the second tranche of comments, whose analysis Sunlight released Tuesday (Dec. 16), 60% of the comments opposed network neutrality, the group said, which came almost entirely from letters generated by American Commitment (56.5% of the anti-net neutrality comments). Only about 1% of non-form letters opposed network neutrality.

 

American Commitment does feature a "Stop Obama's Internet Takeover" campaign prominently on its website.

 

“We’re pleased that the Sunlight Foundation is finally confirming that American Commitment and Americans opposed to regulation of the Internet won the FCC comment period," said American Commitment President Phil Kerpen. "Better late than never. The American people have spoken clearly in expressing their opposition to any effort by the FCC to impose regulations on the Internet. A Washington takeover of the Internet would be disastrous for free speech, commerce, and the future of the Internet as a sphere of innovation.”

 

Combining both rounds, Sunlight found that 41% of the total comments submitted were anti-net neutrality, with the rest either pro or with no clear opinion. All told, about 79% of the comments came in form letters.

 

Opposition to paid priority was a common theme in those form letters, including ones generated by FreePress, BattleForTheNet, Credo, Daily Kos and the Sierra Club.

 

Title II was a popular topic in the second round of comments, not surprising given the concerted push by network neutrality activists to reclassify Internet access under that common carrier regulatory regime. The phrases "common carrier," “title II,” and “public utility”  occurred in about half of the comments in the second tranche.

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