Letter to GAO asks for investigation into fake FCC net neutrality comments

By Cal Jeffrey ยท 5 replies
Dec 5, 2017
Post New Reply
  1. The rollback of Title II net neutrality regulations from 2015 is like a freight train that has lost its brakes. Several members of the Senate penned a letter to the FCC requesting a delay on the vote which is scheduled for December 14. The letter cited evidence of fraudulent statements during the public comment phase of the proposal.

    Rather than ignoring the request, the FCC flatly denied it with a spokesperson for Chairman Ajit Pai's office stating that opponents to his proposal “are becoming more desperate by the day as their effort to defeat [the] plan to restore Internet freedom has stalled.”

    Since the FCC has indicated that it will continue with the vote, several members of Congress are seeking an official investigation from the Government Accountability Office (GAO) into the allegations of fake commenting. There have already been several informal investigations into the matter which have uncovered the existence of a massive attempt to fake public support of the proposal.

    The FCC allowed the public to openly debate Pai’s plan on its website. In the course of just a few days, the open forum received almost 22 million respondents. The rapid accumulation of positive comments raised red flags immediately.

    Several organizations and news outlets including The Verge, ZDNet, consulting firm Emprata and the Pew Research Center began looking into the comments and discovered thousands of entries that were identical, as if they were duplicated and spammed.

    For example, the phrase “The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet…” appeared over 130,000 times.

    Some respondents were contacted and claimed they never made such statements. Emprata discovered evidence of form and bot use in the comments. Pew Research Center said that of the 21.7 million respondents, over half used duplicate or temporary email addresses and false names.

    Now, Representatives Elijah Cummings, Greg Meeks and Frank Pallone have asked the GAO to look into the fake comments.

    According to Engadget, “[The Congressmen] want to know the extent of the fakery, which would violate laws barring fraudulent representation in any subject under the executive branch's oversight.”

    They also want the GAO to look into whether the FCC “stonewalled” an investigation into the matter conducted by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman by withholding information.

    The GAO has not indicated whether it will consider the matter and it is not certain that it would have any impact on the vote if it did. The FCC in the meantime is still plowing ahead with the plan, which is expected to pass 3-2 despite overwhelming public disapproval.

    Top image via NBC News

    Permalink to story.

  2. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 4,000   +2,488

    At this point, with so much evidence of spammed comments (regardless of being pro or con) you would think that committee would halt any further movement until a more definitive answer was known. The fact that they are pushing ahead speaks volume's about Pai's real and personal agenda. One can only hope that the Special Prosecutor widen's his investigations to include the administrations cabinet members, many of which have made it quite clear it's all about them and not at all about the good of the country.
    Stark and psycros like this.
  3. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,097   +1,582

    I hope you're not referring to Mueller's laughable witch hunt, because not only is that a completely separate issue but the net neutrality fraud is verifiable whereas the Russian collusion thing hasn't a shred of evidence supporting it. The FCC's use of professional spammers to astroturf needs its own investigation, starting with Ajit Pai's financial interests with big telecom.
    Cal Jeffrey and Stark like this.
  4. Jyrkz

    Jyrkz TS Enthusiast Posts: 59   +34

    Pai doesn't give **** about any1. His just waiting for his paycheck after the vote has passed.
  5. senketsu

    senketsu TS Guru Posts: 600   +371

    "There have already been several informal investigations into the matter which have uncovered the existence of a massive attempt to fake public support of the proposal."
    as I mentioned before, they need to find out who paid for the bots or whatever that did the above. Follow the money, it's a good start.
  6. Cycloid Torus

    Cycloid Torus Stone age computing. Posts: 3,430   +889

Similar Topics

Add your comment to this article

You need to be a member to leave a comment. Join thousands of tech enthusiasts and participate.
TechSpot Account You may also...