Senators, prosecutor cite fake comments on internet rules

Federal Communications Commission building in Washington D.C

A data firm backed by a telecom industry group found in August that the overwhelming majority of about 1.8 million comments to the FCC favored net neutrality, compared with 24,000 who supported its repeal. Broadband for America, which has advocated for rolling back regulations, financed a study that showed that nearly 8 million comments appeared to be generated by "temporary" and "disposable" email domains linked to fakeemailgenerator.com.

"Really at the heart of the argument is Internet service providers are they are utility", Martino said. 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.

Schneiderman said there are anecdotal reports of comments coming from dead people, children, fictional characters and Russian email addresses as well as from people whose names were used without their permission.

His office suspects that as many as a million of those comments are linked to stolen identities, including a 13 year old who never submitted a comment, a recently deceased woman and the office of the Attorney General's own assistant press secretary. 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.

To this end, we request a thorough investigation by the FCC into reports that bots may have interfered with this proceeding by filing hundreds of thousands of comments.

An FCC spokesperson said the comment controversy was a last-ditch effort to thwart rollback of the rules, which many Republican officials say hurt investment in internet infrastructure and represent too much government involvement in business. 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. "This is unacceptable. The integrity of the public record matters".

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Jessica Rosenworcel, one of two Democratic commissioners now on the FCC, also called for the vote to be delayed pending a full investigation. There is fear that could lead to higher prices and less access to the internet.

Since the open letter was published late last month, roughly 3,000 people from across the country have reached out to Schneiderman's office, including 350 New Yorkers, claiming that their names were used to submit comments without their knowledge, Schneiderman said. Schneiderman said it's a more "mixed bag" now.

Separately Monday, more than two dozen Democratic senators also wrote to the FCC calling for the December 14 vote to be delayed until a review of the submissions take place.

"It is clear that our process for serving the public interest is broken and I do not believe that the agency should move forward until a credible investigation is completed".

A separate study from the Pew Research Center indicated that among the record public comments about net neutrality filed with the FCC over a four-month period, only 6% were unique comments.

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