SD Senator John Thune; Time to Roll Back Net Neutrality

A number of studies have found that numerous comments may have been submitted by bots in an effort to influence the public record. "That includes as many as 50,000 people here in NY", he said.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called Monday for the Federal Communications Commission to delay its vote to repeal net neutrality, scheduled for next week, after his office and other researchers said they've found that more than a million comments submitted to the FCC on the issue were fake. Data scientist Jeff Kao has also run an analysis of the public record, and estimates that over a million comments filed in support of repealing net neutrality may have been fake.

The spokesperson said that Schneiderman had not identified as fake any comments that were used as part of Pai's proposal.

Schneiderman said his team "discovered lots of anecdotal evidence" that some of the comments left on the FCC website appeared to not be legitimate, which ultimately led to his office's investigation. "The FCC chairman and his staff have responded by stonewalling".

According to one report from data scientist Jeff Kao, over 1.3 million comments have been proven to be fraudulent in nature thus far, with many comments impersonating United States residents or using duplicate email addresses.

Without the FCC's help, the New York Attorney General's office recently launched a webpage that allows Americans to search the FCC comment system to find out whether their identities had been stolen.

"They just have to stop this vote", Schneiderman said at a press conference.

The chairman's office did not respond when asked for comment on the calls to delay the net neutrality vote. By Monday, Schneiderman said, they had received more than 3,000 responses - including, he said, from a man who said his deceased mother's name had been used.

"Even right here in my office, my assistant press secretary, Rachel, had a phony comment submitted under her name using the address of her childhood home", Schneiderman said.

On Cyber Monday alone over 200 companies signed a letter to the FCC in strong support of net neutrality regulations, claiming that major sales periods for businesses - like Black Friday - are only possible with a free and open internet. In vast swaths of the country, internet service is only available from a single provider; is it micromanaging to simply ensure that a provider can't choose which web content users can and cannot access?

A group of 27 senators also wrote to Pai asking for a delay in the agency's vote because of concerns about the public comment record.

"It is clear that our process for serving the public interest is broken and I do not believe that the agency should move forward until a credible investigation is completed".

Added Rosenworcel: "Distressingly, the FCC has been unwilling to assist a law enforcement investigation into some of these problems".

In related news, the FCC has reversed course in one respect. The integrity of our process is at stake.

Meanwhile, an FCC member called on the commission to delay a scheduled December 14 vote on repealing net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration until an investigation can be completed.

  • Joey Payne