Sunday, 17 December, 2017

Senators, prosecutor cite fake comments on internet rules

Later this month the Federal Communications Commission will be voting on new rules that would give telecom industry giants the ability to shut down competition and raise the price of free speech Trump's FCC chair shuts down celebrities pushing net neutrality conspiracy theory
Eleanor Moreno | 05 December, 2017, 02:35

The FCC received nearly 23 million comments since last spring, when Pai first made it clear that he would review the FCC's framework for its net neutrality rules.

More than 20 million comments were submitted - but Schneiderman says many of them 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". Charter has already sought to have NY State's consumer protection lawsuit dismissed based on the FCC's broad preemption of state law in the Draft Order. "This is an attempt by people who want to keep the Obama Administration's heavy-handed Internet regulations to delay the vote because they realize that their effort to defeat the plan to restore Internet freedom has stalled", FCC spokeswoman Tina Pelkey said via email.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat appointed by President Obama who supports keeping the current regulations, said that almost a half-million comments before the FCC were filed from Russian email addresses, and that 50,000 consumer complaints are missing from the record.

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.


For now, Schneiderman called the FCC's entire comment process "deeply corrupted", and asked federal investigators to look into the incident alongside his own probe. But Schneiderman said that they approached Pai's staff nine times to obtain records, yet it was only on Monday morning that the FCC's office of inspector general offered to assist.

"We are hoping they can delay the vote so we can get to the bottom of this", he said in a news conference. "Until we get to the bottom of this, no vote should take place until responsible investigation-like that in New York-is complete". "The FCC chairman and his staff have responded by stonewalling".

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. His concern was echoed by Rosenworcel, who also brought up other issues with the process, like an alleged denial of service attack that crashed the system, and 50,000 comments that were submitted but are apparently missing from the public record.

He set up a website for people to check and report whether their name was improperly used for commenting. The problem? In most parts of the United States, the amount of ISPs available are pitiful, and for many, there is only one option. Schneiderman joined a group of 27 senators who are also calling for a delay on the December 14 vote that is widely expected to repeal Obama-era net neutrality rules.

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