Consumers Who Had Their Identities Stolen By A Spam Bot Demand FCC Investigate Bogus Net Neutrality Comments
from the industrial-chicanery dept
Shortly after the FCC voted to begin killing net neutrality earlier this month, we noted how a mysterious bot began spamming the FCC comment system with posts favoring the dismantling of net neutrality. Analysis of the bot indicates it has simply been pulling names from a hacked database of some kind, posting the same exact missive over and over again. The scale of the informational assault isn’t subtle; one estimate suggests that more than 40% of the nearly 3 million comments filed so far are courtesy of this bot, the operator of which still hasn’t been identified.
The original report detailing this bot activity actually managed to get a hold of many of the people whose names are being used, and confirmed that these folks never left comments at the FCC website — and in many instances have no idea what net neutrality even is. In some instances, many of the supposed anti-net neutrality commenters are no longer, well… living:
It is uncertain how these individuals’ personal information was obtained, but it appears that a significant portion of the names and addresses used to post these comments were culled from government files stolen during a number of different network breaches over the years. Many of the addresses associated with these people’s names are outdated, and according to the digital rights group Fight for the Future, in at least two cases a comment was filed to the FCC’s website by people who recently died.
People who aren’t dead and had their names used in this fashion aren’t particularly happy about it. Net neutrality activist group Fight for the Future recently launched a website letting users test to see if their name is being used in such a fashion. And they followed that up with a letter to the FCC, signed by more than two-dozen people whose names have been (ab)used in this fashion, urging the FCC to discard the obviously fraudulent comments and help investigate who’s behind the campaign:
“Based on numerous media reports , nearly half a million Americans may have been impacted by whoever impersonated us in a dishonest and deceitful campaign to manufacture false support for your plan to repeal net neutrality protections. While it may be convenient for you to ignore this, given that it was done in an attempt to support your position, it cannot be the case that the FCC moves forward on such a major public debate without properly investigating this known attack.”
But that’s precisely the problem. Because the phony bot comments support the FCC’s frontal attack on net neutrality, there’s every indication that the FCC intends to do nothing about any of this. And when the final vote comes to a pass later this year, you can be sure that these comments will either be used as evidence of support for the FCC’s large ISP-serving policies, or be used to suggest that the massive outpouring of support for the agency’s 2015 rules should be disregarded entirely.
The FCC is scheduled to continue fielding comments on its plan to kill net neutrality until August 16. If you’re a living, breathing human being, you can add your thoughts to the proceeding here.