back to article FCC: A few (680,000) net neutrality comments lost in 'XML gaffe'

The US Federal Communications Commission misplaced a huge tranche of public comments on its net neutrality proposals – and has blamed its outdated IT system. Four million missives were submitted via the FCC's website and in emails to staff; comments could be submitted in PDF, CSV, or plain text formats, and were converted into …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    In other news

    FCC reports 100% of remaining comments support dropping net neutrality, so they'll assume the ones lost did so as well.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In other news

      Lost comments, lost files, lost hard drives - the Obama administration seems to lose a lot of evidence, don't they?

  2. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I didn't realize that this was a vote.

    Funny... they make it sound like an "election" or popularity contest. Here all along, I thought the only vote that counted was Tom Wheeler's. My bad.

  3. Fred Goldstein

    Actually, the bulk of the pro-NN letters were forms too. And lots were just reactions to John Oliver's TV rant. The actual serious ones that addressed specific issues, rather than rant, may have numbered in the dozens. Maybe they actually read mine, since it was only recently that Tom has started referring to the whole business as a kerfuffle, a word I explicitly used in my very long comment, and have been using since 2006.

    1. goldcd

      Aww democracy

      You think your well reasoned view should count for more?

      It doesn't. Democracy is a flawed system that allows that statement of a f'wit to count for as much as an expert in the field. Would you allow everybody to vote on what you do in your house? Your place of employment? No. Suddenly we extend this to your country and we're all supposed to go "YES YES YES!"

      Democracy is an idiotic system that assumes we're all as equally capable of running a country/whatever as each other.

      Still. We're stuck with it. John Oliver whipped up his own army to vote for his will - and their right was as great per-capita as any other. If you can't change the system, use it yourself.

      Anyway, I digress. HTF is this an issue with Solr? Solr's an indexing and search tool. Assuming the FCC managed to write a text field to a db, wtf?

      As always, I take me concept of "what's possible" from what I could knock up in an evening (and I'm a numpty). If they FCC couldn't match my own cack-handedness, they're corrupt/incompetent/requiring me as CIO

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Aww democracy

        The FCC is a democracy now? When did that happen?

      2. Eric Olson

        Re: Aww democracy

        Absolutely right. Democracy is crap, since there is no effective and accurate means to separate the wheat from the chaff.

        At the same time, I imagine you have a better process in mind? I think we've been waiting 2,000 years or more for something better than the "'One Man, One Vote,' in which <insert dictator/monarch/head cheese> alone is the Man, and he has the Vote," method employed by such esteemed governments as those in Russia, North Korea, Egypt, China, etc.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Aww democracy

          ... no what they've actually been aiming for is converting us to the kind of governance common to the companies who are pushing the pro media agenda that has been the FCC's real mission for generations: the plutocracy of the modern corporation.

          Maybe it's time for people to start exploring the potential of mesh networking and take their communications into their own hands.

      3. BinkyTheHorse

        Re: "Solr" issue

        I suspect that the "issue with Solr" was actually a misconfiguration of Apache Tika, with Solr merely acting as a storage/search backend, but, since the integartion documentation is hosted on the Solr website, that got lost in translation somehow.

      4. Wzrd1

        Re: Aww democracy

        Representative democracy works, when the representatives represent the interests of the people and nation, rather than who contributed the most to the representative's campaign.

  4. oldtaku

    It's not like they were going to pay attention to them anyhow. 700000 comments count less than $7000 in (many) someone's pocket from Verizon.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    If the FCC can't figure this out...

    ...they are blind and stupid. Do they REALLY believe that consumers want to pay more and get less?

    1. Graham Marsden

      Re: If the FCC can't figure this out...

      It depends on how much Big Media want to spend...

  6. dan1980

    If it was MY country, I'd want the body charged with making policy in a highly technical field to be at least passably competent and to have done their researched and prepared.

    But then my own country (and most others) is little better - if at all.

  7. cortland

    When once comments are filed...

    then needs must one despair; for all the good they do, no one will read them, there.

    On the FCC's BPL Rulemaking (PLC for English speakers) my comments were backed up with reference to good data and a certain amount of what I thought was persuasive logic. Wasted effort; the Commission having seen the dagger readied to plunge into its budget in Congress, had orders from a higher authority; money.

    Also see

  8. MatsSvensson

    But at least they made a notch in the railing, so they know exactly where the missing comments fell overboard.

  9. Tikimon

    Form letters save me time being ignored!

    I used to write considered messages for this sort of thing. I "participated in the political process" many times by calling or writing my "representative". I always got the same response: FORM LETTERS that did not address what I said.

    So now I send form letters. My comment is reduced to a tick in a database field, why waste my time composing an elegant message nobody important will read?

    1. Queasy Rider

      Re: Form letters save me time being ignored!

      I really had to restrain myself from giving you an up vote. Why? Because I have a bad attitude, and bad attitudes are just as likely to result in negative outcomes as they are positive. But, I sympathize.

    2. DryBones

      Re: Form letters save me time being ignored!

      Makes perfect sense to me. Write a letter if it's likely it'll actually be read and considered. Write a sentence to tell them which pile to put you in if a secretary or algorithm is going to be working a tally board.

      This is Level of Effort stuff, here.

    3. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Form letters save me time being ignored!

      "So now I send form letters."

      Based on my experience with planning authorities:

      Form letters are reduced to a _single_ tick in a database, no matter how many are received.

      Letters which do not address the issues at hand are simply discarded for the purposes at hand (they're not thrown out, but if the letter mostly contains points outside of those germane to the issues they get shunted into a pile eliminated from consideration.)

      None of this matters with regards to the FCC anyway. It's a stellar example of regulatory capture at its finest.

  10. ma1010
    Big Brother

    Data recovery, no problem

    As others have mentioned, they likely don't care anyhow, but the one part of the government that listens could help, I'm sure. Surely the NSA could retrieve the lost comments along with information on the posters, name, email and postal addresses, details of their love lives, diet, bathroom habits, etc.

  11. Wzrd1

    If asked nicely, they can. Why, I had them restore a six year old deleted e-mail chain between myself and my wife, which nicely proved my point.

    Once her clearance was granted.

    Of course, we both had a need to know.

    The FCC will be found that they do not have a need to know.

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