John Oliver makes another splash in Net Neutrality
Surprise, surprise… the Trump Administration wants to end Net Neutrality. On the bright side they’re asking for your comments… at a poorly advertised, hard to find, and difficult-to-use public comment page. Comedian John Oliver made it easier to comment than the government thinks it should be by reserving the website GoFCCYourself.com and posting the FCC comment page there directly. That puts it just ONE click away instead of the thirty-or-so you’d need through the FCC. It’s still not as easy to use as he (or we) would like, so here’s how to navigate even the simplified page…
John Oliver first made a splash in the Net Neutrality battle three years ago. Back then, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) were salivating over rules that would let them deliver high-speed content for some sites while strangling others. For example, Verizon might choke down the speed of Google and speed up Bing, assuming Bing paid a hefty fee for the privilege. Obama’s FCC wanted to formalize the status-quo of “Net Neutrality” by requiring ISPs to offer the same speeds to all internet users, but the Supreme Court ruled the FCC didn’t have the power to do it. Changing the classification of ISPs from “Title 1” telecom providers to “Title 2” would give them the power, and a grand battle ensued between the ISPs who would make billions and the Net users who would suffer. Oliver did a show explaining the very boring subject of Net Neutrality and asked viewers to contact the FCC with their opinions. The show went viral and resulted in a record flood of 4 million comments to the FCC. They got their regulatory change and the Net remained Neutral, as it always had been.
Now the ISPs are back at the table with the Trump administration in their corner, but they’ve learned lessons from the first battle. While the FCC rulemaking process requires “…an opportunity for public comment on the proposal before it can issue a final rule”, it doesn’t require the comment process to be easy. Reaching the FCC comment page requires commenters to first know it’s there, and then to navigate a complex chain of clicks and redirects to actually get to it. Those lucky enough to clear that gauntlet still face a daunting wall of doublespeak. There’s an “+express” button instead of a “comment” button; “your name” is replaced by “filer”; “proceedings” is the issue you’re trying to comment on and you have to know the proceeding number, and more. Yes, the possibility of comment exists, but it’s been intentionally made as difficult as possible to do it.
No worries, John Oliver rides again! He did another great show on the subject where the centerpiece was his solution to the hidden comment page: Oliver bought the website gofccyourself.com and posted the FCC comment page there for easy one-click access. If you want to make a comment then the FCC is now unwillingly ready to listen. But even with his huge simplification of the process, the comment page has a few bugs in it that keep it from being user-friendly. We put together a few tips from our own comment submission that can help if you want to participate in the process as well…
- When you get to the page you’ll see a gray box under the “Proceedings” header. Click the “+Express” link in the right corner of the box to open the comment form.
- You’ll land on the “ECFS Express page”, where the “Proceedings(s)” box should auto-fill. If it doesn’t, enter Proceeding Number “17-108“.
- Though we first thought it said “filter”, the “filer” field is asking for your first and last name. Make sure this is filled in because if it’s blank the FCC won’t consider your comment valid.
- You have to press “enter” at the end of each of the first two data fields so the form will accept your input. “Tab” should carry you through the rest of the form.
Telecom regulatory administration may not be the most riveting subject in the world, but the Net matters to all of us and John Oliver makes it pretty darn close to entertaining. If Donald Trump wants to turn the Net into a profit pump then let’s not let him do it quietly behind the scenes… please take a moment to go make your voice heard before the public comment period ends!
Remember above all else, if you care about Net Neutrality please go to
But you may also enjoy some of these other links as well…
John Oliver 2017 “Net Neutrality II“
John Oliver 2014 “Net Neutrality I“
John Oliver 2014 “Tom Wheeler Is Not A Dingo” (followup to Net Neutrality I)
“John Oliver’s Net neutrality response swamps FCC‘ by Joan Solsman on C-Net, Jun 2014
“FCC adopts historic Internet rules” by Jose Pagliery on CNN Tech, Feb 2015
FCC Rulemaking Process, FCC website
Open Internet (Net Neutrality), FCC Website