NY AG continues to investigate 'fake' comments on net neutrality

Tuesday, 05 Dec, 2017

Schneiderman, along with FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat who is a lawyer, called on the FCC to delay the vote rolling back net neutrality rules, which is expected to be approved by the committee later this month.

"Forty organizations ask the Federal Communications Commission why, if they are relying on the FTC to protect consumers, they do not do the prudent thing and wait until the cloud over FTC jurisdiction is resolved". The hard-fought rules were approved in 2015 after years of wrangling and lawsuits.

He said that his office's own review of the public filings showed that about 1 million comments may have used names that were in fact stolen identities.

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. Dianne Feinstein, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker and others, wrote in a letter dated December 4.

Today, we're taking a deep dive into the biggest policy controversy in the tech community: the impending vote by the Federal Communications Commission to abandon the Obama-era effort to regulate the internet, known as "net neutrality".

"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.

Content providers Apple and Google support net neutrality, taking the stance that consumers are already paying for connectivity and deserve to have a quality experience. 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? "The FCC has held zero public hearings".

The FCC's commenting system is not like an election. He called on government officials in other states that with residents that appear to have "likely victims" to get involved, including California, Missouri, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Furthermore, an additional 50,000 consumer complaints seem to have been excluded from the public record in this proceeding, according to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests filed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition. "Anyone else see the irony?"

"There's no way with this set of corrupted records...[we can] have a vote based on what the American people really think", Schneiderman said. The problem? In most parts of the United States, the amount of ISPs available are pitiful, and for many, there is only one option.

Net neutrality has emerged as a complicated, partisan and contentious issue.

Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democratic commissioners now on the FCC, also called for the vote to be delayed pending a full investigation.

Rosenworcel said the public comment procedure is important to the agency's process, and it should not make any decision without a guarantee that the responses are genuine.