The FCC Doesn't Care That Somebody's Spamming Its Net Neutrality Proceeding With Fraudulent Comments
from the turning-a-big-blind-eye dept
As we recently noted, more than 40% of the 2.5 million comments filed with the FCC on net neutrality are entirely fake. The comments, which oppose net neutrality, have been posted using a bot that’s pulling the names used from a hacked database of some kind. When the people that own the actual names behind these comments have been contacted by the media, many have stated they didn’t make the comments, and/or have no idea what net neutrality even is.
In an ideal world, the FCC would easily parse out these obviously fraudulent, duplicate comments and shore up the abuse of its API. But because these comments support the current FCC’s belief that meaningful net neutrality protections are somehow an assault on “American freedom,” the FCC appears poised to completely disregard the fact that a malicious actor is manipulating the FCC’s systems. The FCC isn’t candidly admitting this, but FCC boss Ajit Pai’s non-statements and statements alike so far indicate he’s inclined to include the obviously fraudulent comments:
“The FCC didn?t respond to repeated requests to specifically say whether it would filter out the astroturfed comments. Speaking to reporters after announcing a step toward rolling back existing net neutrality protections, FCC Chair Ajit Pai admitted ?a tension between having an open process where it?s easy to comment and preventing questionable comments from being filed.? ?Generally speaking, this agency has erred on the side of openness,? he said.”
When pushed, FCC officials have said they’ll purge comments made under obviously phony names, but isn’t willing to comment further on the obvious blind eye to manipulation of the comment system:
“Pai said the agency wouldn?t consider comments with obviously fake names, like Wonder Woman and Joseph Stalin, but declined to go further. Reached for comment after Pai?s statement, an FCC official declined to comment specifically on astroturfed comments. “You heard his answer on erring on the side of inclusion,” the official said.
And again, the FCC is turning a blind eye to this fraudulent behavior because actual humans overwhelmingly oppose what Pai and friends are up to. Recent analysis of the comments made so far to the FCC indicate the vast, vast majority of consumers — across all political ideologies — don’t want the agency gutting meaningful oversight of the already uncompetitive broadband sector. That could be problematic later this year, when Pai faces inevitable lawsuits over his rush to kill the protections despite no corresponding market necessity, and the broad public support for the rules.