The US Federal Communications Commission has received tens of millions of comments on Chairman Ajit Pai’s proposal to dispense with net neutrality rules put in place during Obama’s presidency. Subject to analysis, however, it turns out that nearly 23 million of these comments “were filed under the same name more than 90 times each,” more than 7 million came from email domains connected to FakeMailGenerator.com, and just under half a million from Russian email addresses. According to Bloomberg, it appears that “someone was trying to game” the FCC’s electronic public comments system and both New York attorney general, Eric Schneiderman, and the US Government Accountability Office want to know who.
In an open letter to the FCC, Schneiderman sought the commission’s cooperation, saying that “federal and state governments should be working together to ensure that malevolent actors cannot subvert our administrative agencies’ decision-making processes.”
In response, FCC spokesman, Brian Hart, said that Schneiderman’s facts were “completely inaccurate,” and that while there had been “concerning activity … on both sides of the issue … most of the suspicious activity has been by those supporting internet regulation.”
However, even if the Government Accountability office can get to the bottom of the “missing emails [and] automated comments using peoples’ identities without their knowledge,” according to a spokesman from the policy group Free Press, “ the appearance of some impropriety gives Ajit Pai an excuse to reject the comments process.” Already there were those like Jonathan Spalter, president of the trade group US Telecom, who believed that, "We shouldn’t be making policy like we’re voting for ‘Dancing with the Stars.’”
The vote on the proposal to scrap current net neutrality rules and give broadband providers the power to “block or slow websites,” is expected as early as December 14th and “to succeed with votes from the Republican majority Pai leads.”
To find out more about the massive number of dubious comments read “FCC Got 444,938 Net-Neutrality Comments From Russian Email Addresses,” written by Todd Shields and published by Bloomberg Politics on November 29th, 2017.