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Keeping Track of the Open Internet Comments Submitted to the FCC

by: Dr. David A. Bray, FCC Chief Information Officer

July 14, 2014

*Update: The blog post below has been revised to reflect  the extension of the initial Net Neutrality comment period to 7/18.

This week marks the end of the first round of comments in the Commission’s Open Internet Proceeding.  During the past 60 days, the Commission has received a large number of comments from a wide range of constituents – both from the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) and from the openinternet@fcc.gov email address.  Chairman Tom Wheeler and I both enthusiastically support open government and open data, so with this post I wanted to share the hourly rate of comments submitted into the FCC’s ECFS since the start of public comments on the FCC’s Open Internet Proceeding (Proceeding 14-28). Here’s a link to a Comma Separated Values (CSV) text file providing those hourly rates for all comments submitted to ECFS and those specific to the Open Internet Proceeding; below is a graphical presentation of that same data.

As the data show, the public has been submitting a high-volume of comments into ECFS over the last two months. The FCC IT team rapidly implemented an additional caching feature on June 3 to support some of the highest concurrent commenting levels that ECFS has seen in its 17-plus year history.

In addition, the Commission also has been receiving comments to the openinternet@fcc.gov email inbox that was established April 24 — before the Commission adopted the Open Internet Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on May 15, which began the official comment period in ECFS.  Here’s a link to a CSV text file providing those weekly rates and below is a graphical presentation of the data of email comments received.

Although the date for the initial round of comments is tomorrow, the Commission’s email inbox and ECFS will remain open.   We continue to invite engagement from all interested parties.  We will continue to update the two CSV text files providing the commenting rates at the webpage, as well as provide an open application programming interface (API) to the CSV files. The FCC IT team will also look into implementing an easier way for electronic “web scraping” of comments available in ECFS for comment downloads greater than 100,000 comments at once as we work to modernize the FCC enterprise.

The number of people submitting comments is impressive, underscoring the importance of this issue and the critical role public engagement plays in the Commission’s policy-making process. When the ECFS system was created in 1996, the Commission presumably didn’t imagine it would receive more than 100,000 electronic comments on a single telecommunications issue. Open government and open data is important to our rapidly changing times both in terms of the pace of technology advances and the tightening of budgets in government. I hope you find this information useful.

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