NY AG, Rosenworcel Call to Delay Net Neutrality Vote Over Fake Comments

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman again called on the FCC on Monday to help his office investigate the fake public comments submitted to the agency on the net neutrality issue. Joined by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, Schneiderman said during a press conference, the Commission’s public process, “has been deeply corrupted.” He and Rosenworcel want Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the vote, now slated for next week, “until we figure out what Americans are really telling the FCC.”

Inside Towers reported the Commission received over 21 million comments on the proposal to roll-back the re-classification of the internet as a utility. Based on an investigation by his office, Schneiderman said, as many as eight million fake comments may have been submitted, using computer-generated identities “that are clearly false,” and at least an additional one million comments using fake identities, including about 50,000 New Yorkers.

Last week his office set up a website asking citizens to check their comments with the Commission and let his office know if their identity was misused. In less than one week they received 3,000 responses, including residents who reported that names of the deceased and minors were used. 

But his office can’t prove what happened without help from the FCC, which can verify addresses, he said. The agency “stonewalled” his office until this morning, when the FCC’s Inspector General’s office offered to help in the investigation, according to Schneiderman. “This is a big step but we remain skeptical. We hope the Inspector General will press the FCC to investigate.”

Schneiderman asked the FCC for help before, Inside Towers reported. The agency has not denied many of the comments are fake, rather Pai and Commissioner Michael O’Rielly have chosen to focus on the substance of the comments, rather than quantity, Inside Towers reported.

Rosenworcel and Schneiderman worry the fake comments may have come from other states as well; they encouraged leaders in these states – CA, GA, MO, OH, PA and TX – “to defend their citizen’s identities.”

Twenty-seven U.S. Senators, led by Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH) echoed the call to delay the vote.

In response, USTelecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said calls to delay the vote are a recipe for “distraction. Noting that numerous substantial, factual comments have been filed in this proceeding from all sides,” he said, “rather than be diverted by bots, let’s focus on what’s important — ensuring workable net neutrality protections for all American broadband users.”

December 5, 2017 

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