FCC: "Desperate" net neutrality supporters won't delay vote

Posted December 05, 2017

Twenty-seven USA senators and New York's attorney general asked federal regulators Monday to delay a vote on scrapping open internet rules amid concerns the public comment docket is filled with fake comments.

In an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last month, Schneiderman wrote that the FCC's public comments website had been deeply "corrupted", and that his office had uncovered "enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules".

The New York Attorney General's Office also has introduced an online tool that the public can use to see if their identity was used to post a comment on the site without their knowledge or consent. Numerous comments, Schneiderman said, were filed using false identities, including those of minors and deceased people.

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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. "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.

In an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai published on the website Medium on November 21, Schneiderman said he was investigating a "massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process" through the use of fake public comments on the subject of net neutrality.

Prior to releasing the open letter, the Attorney General's office had contacted the FCC and its top officials at least nine times to request assistance in its investigation.

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The FCC is expected to vote on February 14 on Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to scrap the 2015 landmark net neutrality rules, moving to give broadband service providers sweeping power over what content consumers can access.

The Federal Communications Commission is on the verge of a historic vote to gut net neutrality rules and potentially ruin our internet.

A separate study from the Pew Research Center indicated that among the record public comments about net neutrality filed with the FCC over a four-month period, only 6% were unique comments. While Pai contends the regulations were hurting ISPs, opponents say it crucially prevented them from imposing restrictive measures such as speed throttling or content preference. Speaking at a conference in February, he said that two years after the rules were put it in place, "it is evident that the FCC made a mistake (which) injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market, and uncertainty is the enemy of growth". An FCC spokesperson previously dismissed the complaints as "nothing more than a transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama Administration's heavy-handed internet regulations to gain publicity for himself". The FCC needs to get to the bottom of this mess.

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