Transparency for corporations is always a good thing. It lets us know what they are doing, how they are impacting our environment, and how they are affecting us.
Getting corporations to be transparent is usually easier said than done, however.
In a surprising but perhaps not unexpected move, the Federal Communication Commission’s IT team has made all the comments that have been submitted on its “open internet” net neutrality proposals available to download in a bunch of XML files.
There are a lot of comments, 1.1 million in fact. So many that these XML files make up 1.4 gigabytes of data. That’s the highest ever for an official proceeding.
All 1.4 gigabytes of these XML files are filled with net neutrality comments from the public. The FCC posted them all last Tuesday.
That is a lot of data.
To put that in perspective, the data in these files is is approximately two and a half times the amount of plan-text data in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, , according to FCC’s Gigi Sohn.
The blog TechCrunch was brave enough to go through them – and claimed that the sheer size of them made their Chrome browser freeze 10 times in one afternoon.
If you’re brave enough to risk the sheer size of these crashing your computer, you can check them out for yourself HERE.
I tried to take a look at them as well, and after several frozen computer screens, I was finally able to get a look.
There are a lot of comments. Some of them are quite well phrased while others devolve into the name calling and insults typical for trolls on the internet. Below is one of my favourites.
Having your ISP charging, say for example, Netflix a premium to not slow them down
is like having to pay off other marathon runners to not trip you during the run. It
is a direct attack on competitive markets. Net Neutrality is essential to the
internet functioning in the manner that it currently does, a fair and level playing
field. Monetization of the internet ecosystem is a blatant farce parading as a
solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.
Regardless, the slant of all these comments seem to focus on three main topics of interest:
- Free Speech
TechCrunch did a count of how frequently certain words and phrases popped up in the two xml files they managed to open.
- Free Speech racked up 2,322 mentions
- Netflix picked up 1,903
- Comcast got 4, 613 comments.
TechCrunch also threw in some interesting graphs that I won’t post here. I recommend checking out their article on this bit of news for yourself though. You can check it out HERE.
The FCC has vowed to review every single comment. They released the data in these .xml files in the hopes that the machine readable format will “allow researchers, journalists and others to analyse and create visualizations of the data so that the public and the FCC can discuss and learn from the comments we’ve received,” said Gigi Sohn.
Of course, these comments have been available on the FCC website since they were submitted, but the pages they were stored on were difficult to navigate, and only one comment appeared at a time.
What is Net Neutrality?
We’ve already written a blog explaining what Net Neutrality is, and you are welcome to check it out HERE if you like.
John Oliver also provided a fantastic description of Net Neutrality during his television show Last Week Tonight back in June. You can watch and enjoy below.
Quite a few of the comments found in this 1.4 GB of data were probably a direct result of John Oliver’s call to action. Shortly after this program aired, the FCC website crashed under the sheer volume of comments.
Will it do any Good?
That is the million dollar question. Internet service providers spent over 40 million dollars in the first two quarters of this year lobbying regulators and lawmakers. To break that down, it’s about $10 spent on lobbying for every comment that was submitted to the FCC. Can all these comments and opinions really beat out $40 million dollars of lobbying?
The public now has until September 10 to file reply’s to the comments that have already been submitted. After that, the FCC will review the comments and begin final drafting rules.