Senators, prosecutor cite fake comments on internet rules

Dr. V. Sridhar

People opposed to replacing net neutrality, an Obama-era regulation, say it would infringe on free speech, favors big business, and leaves small businesses on unfair ground.

As stated in the letter, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has spent the past 6 months performing an investigation of his own regarding the comments in question, with his findings largely reflecting Kao's. Numerous comments, Schneiderman said, were filed using false identities, including those of minors and deceased people.

On Monday, Schneiderman estimated that, in addition to swarms of computer-generated names, as many as 1 million comments were submitted using real people's identities without their knowledge.

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". Schneiderman said it's a more "mixed bag" now.

The FCC is scheduled to hold a vote on December 14th over an order to replace and repeal the 2015 rules enforcing net neutrality.

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The FCC says it's cooperating with Schneiderman's investigation. Verizon has been a proponent of the FCC's move to repeal net neutrality, and new FCC chairman Ajit Pai is a former Verizon lawyer, so protesting Verizon stores makes about as much sense as anything else. Between June and November, Schneiderman's office requested logs and "other records" from the FCC nine times, but has received "no substantive response to our investigative requests". That is why I support net neutrality.

The FCC received almost 22 million comments when it asked for public input on the plan to scrap the rules that prevent internet service providers from discriminating against certain content, The Hill reported. However, earlier today, the FCC's Inspector General's office reversed course, indicating that it will assist with the Attorney General's investigation.

Demonstrations against Pai's plan have also taken place online.

"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".

Because one component of Pai's plan is to give the FTC significant responsibility for shielding internet users from corporate throttling, any ruling that concludes the FTC does not have such legal authority would effectively leave telecom companies in charge of regulating themselves. 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". But Schneiderman said that "unless we get the information from the FCC, it's anecdotal evidence". "There needs to be federal investigation", he said.

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