Senators anxious about fake comments in FCC plan to change net neutrality

Posted December 05, 2017

The inquiry into the fake comments began in the spring, Schneiderman said, amid media reports and research claiming that several people were impersonated by anti-net neutrality commenters and allegations that bots were being used to submit comments opposing net neutrality rules. The FCC and the FCC Inspector General's office had been unwilling to provide records necessary to investigate who may be behind the misused identities - a departure from past practice, where the FCC has cooperated with the Attorney General's office on confidential investigations into practices that harmed New Yorkers and residents of other states.

In a November 21st open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Attorney General Schneiderman announced that his office has - for six months - been investigating the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments on the possible repeal of neutrality rules, which used real Americans' identities.

The page "allows anyone that thinks their identity may have been stolen to check the complete file of FCC comments and see if a fake submission was made in their name". "We're going to hold them to that - and, in the meantime, it's vital that the FCC delay the vote until we know what happened", said Schneiderman.

Schneiderman, along with 27 USA senators, have called on the FCC to delay its December 14 vote on net neutrality due to the fake comments. Unlike legislative votes in Congress, concerned citizens don't have a local senator to complain to, and the FCC's comment process has left a lot to be desired. According to the sources, Chairman Pai's staff had expressed concern that any attempt to block fraudulent comments would result in accusations that Pai was trying to censor net neutrality advocates.

"Without additional information about the alleged anomalies surrounding the public records, the FCC can not conduct a thorough and fair evaluation of the public's view on this topic, and should not move forward with a vote on December 14, 2017".

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He said Social Democrat (SPD) leaders would make a proposal on Monday on how to proceed. A resolution should then be formed at the party congress in the coming week.

There is fear that could lead to higher prices and less access to the internet.

As Republicans now hold a majority of the FCC's five seats, the order to repeal the net neutrality rules is expected to pass. Twenty-eight USA senators have asked that the vote be postponed due to the allegations of fraud dismissed by Chairman Pai.

A spokesperson for the FCC said, "At today's press conference, they didn't identify a single comment relied upon in the draft order as being questionable".

Pai, who was once the associate general counsel for Verizon and was nominated to the commission by Obama, has favored rolling back net neutrality regulations, an Obama-era rule that treats broadband like a public utility.

"This is just evidence that supporters of heavy-handed Internet regulations are becoming more desperate by the day as their effort to defeat Chairman Pai's plan to restore Internet freedom has stalled". The FCC needs to get to the bottom of this mess.