New York questions industry and advocacy groups over fake net neutrality comments

These protesters rallied last year in opposition of the FCC rollback of net neutrality rules.

Andrew Caballero-reynolds / AFP/Techhnews

New York has expanded its investigation into fake public comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission last year on the agency’s proposal to roll back net neutrality rules. 

The probe underway by the New York Attorney General’s Office is now scrutinizing telecom trade groups and DC-based advocacy organizations that were both for and against the FCC’s plan. 

Barbara Underwood, who became the attorney general in New York earlier this year when Eric Schneiderman stepped down, subpoenaed at least a dozen groups on Tuesday. She wants to know if these groups had anything to do with the 22 million fraudulent letters that flooded the FCC’s electronic comment system in 2017 when the FCC was considering repealing the net neutrality rules.

The FCC, led by Republican Ajit Pai, voted last December to repeal the 2015 net neutrality regulations, which prohibited broadband providers from blocking or slowing down traffic and banned them from offering so-called fast lanes to companies willing to pay extra to reach consumers more quickly than competitors.

New York subpoenaed a range of groups about the fake comments, from the industry-funded Broadband for America, which opposes net neutrality, to pro-net neutrality groups like Free Press and Fight for the Future.

A large number of comments were filed using temporary or duplicate email addresses. And millions of letters repeated the same script verbatim.  A study released earlier this month from Stanford University found that 800,000 of the messages were unique, and of those, about 99.7 percent were in support of keeping the FCC’s net neutrality rules.

Schneiderman first opened the investigation into the fake comments last November, a month before the net neutrality repeal vote.  The AG’s office has already determined that millions of the comments submitted en masse fraudulently used real people’s names, according to The New York Times. Some comments used the names of dead people. Investigators “estimate that almost half of all of the comments — more than nine million — used stolen identities,” according to the Times.

Representatives from Free Press and Fight for the Future each said they are happy to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s request.

“We welcome this investigation,” Sarah Roth-Gaudette, executive director for Fight for the Future said in a statement.   She added that her group was “one of the first groups to help uncover the flood of fraudulent comments that were submitted to the FCC, and to call for a thorough investigation.”

The group also reached out to the FCC and asked that the agency remove the fraudulent comments from the docket, regardless of whether they were pro- or anti- net neutrality. But the agency didn’t immediately respond.

A representative from Broadband for America didn’t immediately respond to comment.

Election Security: Midterm elections, social media and hacking: What you need to know.

Security:  Stay up-to-date on the latest in breaches, hacks, fixes and all those cybersecurity issues that keep you up at night. 

Source link

Leave a Reply

Subscribe to our newsletter

Join our monthly newsletter and never miss out on new stories and promotions.
Techhnews will use the information you provide on this form to be in touch with you and to provide updates and marketing.

You can change your mind at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting us at We will treat your information with respect.

%d bloggers like this: