The FCC is making it easier for researchers and net neutrality advocates to slice, dice and massage the comments it received on its proposal to use Sec. 706 authority to justify new anti-blocking and anti-unreasonable discrimination rules.
On Tuesday, it released six XML files totaling over 1.4 gigabytes of data or as Wheeler adviser Gigi Sohn put it in announcing the data drop, "approximately two and half times the amount of plain-text data embodied in the Encyclopedia Britannica."
She said the goal was to allow researchers, journalists and others to analyze and visualize that input and to create an "even more informed" set of reply comments, due Sept. 10.
“Today’s decision by the FCC is a big step towards helping everyone understand public opinion around net neutrality," said Michael Weinberg, VP for Public Knowledge. "While it is incredibly telling that well over a million people have decided to voice their opinion on the Commission’s proposed rules, this data release should help us develop a more detailed understanding of exactly how the public views the issue."
Public Knowledge's experience with advocating for public access to information was all over the announcement. Sohn is former president and co-founder of the group, and Bartees Cox, a spokesman for Public Knowledge until a couple of weeks ago, is now deputy press secretary at the FCC. He provided some more context for the data release.
Cox pointed out that the data will still be available in the FCC docket, where people can also view them.
"With such a high number of comments, making the information contained accessible as open data for public discourse is important. The more people can see the content of the comments the FCC has already received, the more constructive the feedback will continue to be to inform the FCC’s deliberations in creating new rules for the open internet."