Sunday, 17 December, 2017

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

Eric Schneiderman CREDIT Mary Altaffer AP REX Shutterstock
Dexter Carr | 05 December, 2017, 02:06

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took aim at the integrity of the FCC's rule-making proceeding to roll back many of its current net neutrality rules, pointing to evidence that numerous public comments filed come from stolen identities or are fake.

The protests are being organized by Team Internet, a "grassroots network of almost half a million volunteer activists spearheaded by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund, three of the groups behind the massive July 12 net neutrality day of action that drove millions of comments, emails, and phone calls to the FCC and Congress".

The FCC's inspector general told Schneiderman Monday it would be assisting his office, but the attorney general said the agency needed to go farther. "But my office's investigation found that this process was deeply corrupted - with one million comments that may have been submitted using real people's stolen identities", said Attorney General Schneiderman. He set up a website for people to check and report whether their name was improperly used for commenting.

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". "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", Pai's office said in a statement.

The FCC is scheduled to hold a vote on December 14th over an order to replace and repeal the 2015 rules enforcing net neutrality. He has said that the FCC does not need to impose any tougher rules on ISPs to protect consumers, as the Federal Trade Commission will continue to do that.

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Twenty-eight US senators, including Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also sent a letter to Pai Monday urging him to postpone the vote in light of the investigation.

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.

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

The chairman announced a plan in April to repeal the rules that restrict internet service providers from discriminating against certain websites. 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.

"This so-called investigation is nothing more than a transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama Administration's heavy-handed Internet regulations to gain publicity for himself", he said in an email November 22.


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