The Federal Communications Commission’s website temporarily buckled under heavy traffic Monday.
The outage — which appeared to be fixed by Tuesday morning — came one day after comedian John Oliver urged Internet “trolls” to comment on the FCC’s net-neutrality proposal.
“This might be the moment you’ve spent your whole life training for,” Oliver joked Sunday on his HBO show Last Week Tonight. “We need you to get out there, and for once in your lives, focus your indiscriminate rage in a useful direction.”
He directed commenters to visit the agency’s page at FCC.gov/comments.
On Monday afternoon, the FCC tweeted that it was “experiencing technical difficulties” due to “heavy traffic.” Users who tried to leave a comment often received an error message or blank page. Kim Hart, an FCC spokeswoman, said the site had problems for a “couple of hours” Monday but that there’s no way to know if it was a direct result of Oliver’s segment.
David Bray, the agency’s chief information officer, suggested on Twitter Monday that the agency’s outdated technology was ill-equipped to handle the crush of traffic. The system is more than 10 years old, he wrote.
The agency’s net-neutrality proceeding had 45,193 comments by Tuesday morning.
The agency will collect public comments on its proposal for several months before enacting final rules. The FCC has also set up a separate email inbox for comments at email@example.com because of the intense public interest in the issue.
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler is trying to rework the agency’s net-neutrality rules after a federal court struck down the old regulations earlier this year. But his proposal has prompted an explosion of public outrage because it would allow Internet service providers to charge websites for faster service in some cases. The proposal would still bar Internet providers from blocking any websites.
Net-neutrality advocates argue that all Internet traffic should be treated equally.