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PIF Says FCC Should Extend All Comment Periods

Cites comment backlog, but FCC spokesperson says clearing it is only days away

Protect Internet Freedom, joined by TechNet, Tea Party Nation, Taxpayers Protection Alliance and others, has asked the FCC to extend all of its comment periods until “every currently submitted comment can be posted and given adequate time for public consideration.”

The FCC said last week that due in part to a spike in comments in the set-top and broadband privacy dockets, there was a backlog of 74,000 comments across all dockets. That would include the 2,200 comments critical of the FCC’s broadband consumer privacy proposal that PIF said its supporters had filed electronically, though the FCC said a glitch in communications with the PIF online tool was to blame for those missing comments.

Related: GOP Senators Ask Wheeler to Extend Broadband Privacy Comments

“The FCC’s current delay in posting comments is unavoidably limiting the length of time those remarks are available to the public,” said the groups in a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler and the other commissioners, “thereby reducing the potential reach and impact of the comments.”

They said it was incumbent on the FCC to extend the comment periods on all dockets until the backlog is resolved.

Related: Black Caucus Leaders Tell FCC to Pause Set-Top Initiative

While the groups said the 74,000-comment backlog was not expected to be resolved until the FCC implemented a new electronic filing system — sometime this summer, according to the FCC — an FCC spokesperson May 19 said that was not the case, though it is now dealing with a new flood or input it will need to work through.

“The backlog of comments from last week has been cleared,” said FCC Press Secretary Kim Hart. “The FCC received additional high volumes of comments in the set-top box proceeding this week, and there are currently 91,000 comments in queue to be processed. We have brought online additional capacity, allowing the system to process about 30,000 comments a day. It will take a few extra days for all of the comments to be made available in ECFS.”

Related: Future of TV Coalition Offers Up Set-Top Myths and Realities

A check of the privacy docket still only showed 327 comments, but that is because the FCC still has not received all of the 2,200 electronically from PIF’s online tool, said Hart. The handful PIF filed manually should be in there, she said.

Broadcasting & Cable