Yesterday the FCC public comment system crashed due to high traffic which seems to be attributable to a call from comedian John Oliver for internet trolls to visit the FCC’s website and “focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.” That call came after a 13 minute segment on Oliver’s HBO show “Last Week Tonight” where Oliver railed against attempts to undermine Net Neutrality joking “the internet is not broken and the FCC is currently taking steps to fix that.”
A Youtube video of the segment quickly went viral and now has over 1.5 million hits. The segment apparently motivated enough people to visit the FCC’s site to protest the new rules that it crashed.
Part of Oliver’s segment focused on Tom Wheeler’s background as a lobbyist for the telcom industry and how obviously inappropriate that was given his position comparing it to having a “dingo watch a baby” that the cable industry was “overseeing their own oversight.” The appointment of Wheeler by President Obama was a source of outrage at the time given Wheeler’s clear conflicts of interest.
Oliver also noted the way the telcom companies agree not to compete with each other as akin to drug cartels carving up turf and played a segment where a Comcast executive admitted on CNBC that they agreed not to compete with Time Warner well before they entered in plans to merge with them.
Whether or not the FCC, stacked with telcom hacks, cares about the comments is an open question. Though the more there are the harder it will be to ignore. Perhaps some within the bureaucracy want to do the right thing and just need some cover from the public or perhaps they are craven but cowardly and will wilt before mass outrage. In either case, take a few minute to let the FCC know how you feel about wrecking the open internet at FCC.gov/Comments.