The FCC has a plan to change how the internet is run, but you can comment on it first — here’s how

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Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai.
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Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday released its updated proposal to repeal the net-neutrality rules set during the Obama administration.

There isn’t much about the new text that’s radically different than the initial proposal the FCC released in late April – it still aims to reverse the Title II classification that gives the agency broad authority over internet service providers, and still questions whether rules that ban those ISPs from slowing down or speeding up certain sites for payment are even necessary in the first place.

But the release also means that the public is once again free to comment on what it thinks of FCC chairman Ajit Pai’s plans.

Nearly 2.6 million comments were filed in the lead-up to the FCC’s vote to consider the proposal – many of those seem to have been spurred by John Oliver’s call to keep the rules, but hundreds of thousands of others, many in favor of repeal, have likely come from bots. The nature of the FCC’s rulemaking process means the thousands of comments submitted in the week leading up to the agency’s latest vote won’t be counted as part of the public record, either.

Whatever the case, if you want to definitively share your opinion on how the government should regulate the internet going forward, now’s the time to do so.

Sadly, the FCC’s process for accepting comments is as wonky and unintuitive as you’d expect a government website to be. So, to help, here’s a quick walkthrough of what you need to do:


The first thing you need to do is find the filings page for the proposal in the first place.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

You can do that by clicking this link here. If you see the title “Restoring Internet Freedom” in the top right corner, you’re in the right place. (That’s the name of Pai’s proposal.)


From there, click on the “+Express” link at the top right corner of the page.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

The rest should be self-explanatory. Enter in your name, address, email, and the like, then post your thoughts in the “Brief Comments” box below. When you’re finished, hit the big blue “Continue to review screen” button.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

Review your filing to make sure everything’s kosher, then submit it away.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

You’ll see this confirmation page afterwards.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

If the direct link to the proposal above winds up breaking for whatever reason, you can also manually enter the proceeding number and comment from there.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

You can do that by clicking this link here.

From there, go to the first box, titled “Proceeding(s),” then type in “17-108.” That’s the proposal’s docket number. Then comment as you would above.


If you happen to be part of a school, organization, or some other group that wants to submit comments in bulk, the FCC says you must download a separate .CSV template (i.e., a spreadsheet) and put every filing for your party in there. You’ll then have to upload that file to a special FCC page, then submit it there.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

You can find the page for bulk submissions at this link here.

The .CSV template is set up similarly to the comment page for individual users, so filling it out should be straightforward.


However you comment, do your best to actually read the FCC’s new net neutrality proposal in the first place.

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Jeff Dunn/Business Insider

FCC-17-60A1 Restoring InternetFreedom NPRM by Jeff Dunn on Scribd

FCC-17-60A1 Restoring InternetFreedom NPRMJeff Dunn

You can read that above, orhave a look through it here.

It’s 75 pages long, but a good chunk of it is filler. If you’re really concerned about internet service providers meddling or not meddling with your internet, it should be worth it.


This is important. Pai and his fellow Republicans at the FCC have repeatedly said that they aren’t judging this like a popular vote, where the “side” that gets the most comments of support wins. If you want the current rules to stay, for instance, try to back up your position with an argument beyond “I like Title II.”

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HBO

If you can cite specific passages in the proposal or give personal experiences you’ve had that relate to net neutrality, even better.

We’ve gone into more detail about this in the past, but the point is that quality matters. You don’t have to write a novel, but this is a big deal, so treat it as such.


That said, the public’s opinion is, ostensibly, the foundation upon which the FCC makes its decisions. If all of this goes to court — and, spoiler alert, it’s going to — having a public record that doesn’t look like the space under a YouTube video should lend your opinion more weight.

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Getty/Chip Somodevilla

Either way, this process has a long way to go: This comment period will last until August 16, then the FCC will make a decision and likely hold a final vote by the end of the year. If Democrat commissioner Mignon Clyburn departs the agency when her term ends in June, though, it would leave the FCC with too few members to proceed, and delay the process even further. Whatever the case, lawsuits will likely follow if Pai’s proposal comes to fruition.

But if you feel strongly about the future of the internet, none of that is an excuse to stay silent.