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FCC gets 647,000 net neutrality comments ahead of Tuesday deadline

The Federal Communications Commission has received over 647,000 comments from the public on the thorny topic of net neutrality, according to its chairman Tom Wheeler. The deadline for the first round of comments is July 15 and Wheeler has invited interested parties — which should be just about everyone — to “keep your input coming” before Tuesday.

The FCC is currently weighing up its approach to net neutrality, the principle that sites and services should be treated equally by ISPs irrespective of size or financial backing. Many of the hundreds of thousands of comments left for the FCC were prompted by comedian John Oliver’s 13-minute rant on the importance of net neutrality, a clip that’s amassed 4.5m views on YouTube.

Anyone is invited to leave their opinions on the issue via the FCC website until the cut-off point next week. There will then be an extended period where these comments are made public and responses are invited, which runs up until September. It’s unlikely that a final decision by the FCC on net neutrality will arrive before the end of the year, but it’s important to make your voice heard before that happens.

The FCC’s original proposals for an Internet ‘fast lane’ (announced in April) attracted a storm of criticism from users as well as major tech companies including Google, Microsoft and Facebook. The fast lane analogy is one that the FCC rejects but it has come under increasing pressure to introduce legislation that maintains a level playing field on the Web.

We’ve written a comprehensive rundown of the net neutrality debate so you can get up to speed on the ins and outs of the discussion. Chairman Wheeler has previously indicated that he’s open to the idea of classifying ISPs as open carriers unable to charge extra for preferential treatment, but there’s a long way to go — and plenty more to be said — before a final decision is made.

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