FCC’s Website Crashed Following John Oliver’s Net-Neutrality Rant

The comment system was overwhelmed by traffic, but appears to be working again.

National Journal
Add to Briefcase
Brendan Sasso
June 3, 2014, 7:37 a.m.

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 at­ments.

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 open­in­ter­ 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.


Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.