FCC: "Desperate" net neutrality supporters won't delay vote

FCC:

FCC: "Desperate" net neutrality supporters won't delay vote

Schneiderman said that his call for a halt to the vote was "not a dispute on the merits" of whether the rules should be repealed or kept in place, as there have been doubts about the authenticity of comments coming from both sides of the debate.

Citing the findings of Schneiderman's office and other researchers, the senators wrote, "These reports raise serious concerns as to whether the record the FCC is now relying on has been tampered with and merits the full attention of, and investigation by, the FCC before votes on this item are cast".

Spurred by HBO's John Oliver, who rallied his viewers to support existing regulations, a tsunami of comments flooded the FCC website during the open comment period, hitting almost 22 million.

"Even right here in my office, my assistant press secretary, Rachel, had a phony comment submitted under her name using the address of her childhood home", Schneiderman said. 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.

Schneiderman said that his office believed the identities of Americans were stolen and used to submit comments on net neutrality to the FCC. Last month, Schneiderman criticized the FCC for its failure to cooperate in his office's ongoing investigation into the fake comments, which it began in June, making repeated contacts to the FCC over the subsequent five months. "It is incumbent on the FCC and all of my colleagues to stand back, figure out what's happening with this record before us, and get to the bottom of these stolen identities".

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. "The FCC chairman and his staff have responded by stonewalling". "This is unacceptable. The integrity of the public record matters". "We're going to hold them to that - and, in the meantime, it's vital that the FCC delay the vote until we know what happened", said Schneiderman.

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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. If so, and if the FCC rolls back the net neutrality rules December 14, then neither the FTC nor the FCC will have the authority to regulate broadband providers.

Twenty-eight USA 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.

When Pai made his proposal public last month, an FCC official said that the vast majority of the comments were from form letters, and that 7.5 million of the responses were exactly the same and came from 45,000 unique names and addresses.

"One of the arguments is the government shouldn't get involved in the Internet", said Anthony Martino, director of Northeast Cyber Security and Forensic Center at Utica College.

In related news, the FCC has reversed course in one respect.

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