New York AG Provides Tool To Help You Check If Your Name Was Used To Support Killing Net Neutrality

from the shenanigans dept

So we've noted several times now how the FCC's open comment period for its Orwell-inspired "Restoring Internet Freedom" net neutrality proceeding was simply awash in all manner of fraud. From bots that filled the comment proceeding with bogus support from fake or even dead people, to fake DDoS attacks intended to downplay the wash of angry users that flooded to the agency's website in protest. All of this stuff is more than likely to pop up in the inevitable lawsuits that are filed in the new year after the net neutrality repeal formally hits the federal register.

In addition, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently stated he has been conducting an investigation for the last six months into these bogus comments. In a letter recently sent to FCC boss Ajit Pai, Schneiderman notes that he reached out to the FCC nine times over a period of five months to get the agency's help in getting a closer look at the APIs and server logs related to the fraud campaign. And that time and time again the FCC ignored its request:

"Specifically, for six months my office has been investigating who perpetrated a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC’s notice and comment process through the misuse of enormous numbers of real New Yorkers’ and other Americans’ identities. Such conduct likely violates state law — yet the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed.

We reached out for assistance to multiple top FCC officials, including you, three successive acting FCC General Counsels, and the FCC’s Inspector General. We offered to keep the requested records confidential, as we had done when my office and the FCC shared information and documents as part of past investigative work.

Yet we have received no substantive response to our investigative requests. None."

That mirrors my own experience in trying to get the FCC's help after somebody hijacked my identity (and the identity of one of my employers) to falsely claim (twice, using two different bogus addresses) I support killing net neutrality protections. The general consensus is that while the FCC isn't likely directly behind this fraudulent activity, it's refusing to help because 1) exposing the culprit could expose the industry-linked groups behind it and 2) raising questions about the legitimacy of the one chance the public had to give feedback helps downplay the massive public opposition to the FCC's plan.

Regardless, the NY AG is proceeding with its investigation without the FCC's help. As part of that push, it has revealed a new tool on its website that lets you check to see if your name was improperly used to support killing net neutrality. Those findings are then submitted to the AG for use in its investigation and as evidence in any looming lawsuits.

Again, this is just one potential avenue of inquiry into this entire, rather grotesque affair. The FCC is also being sued by journalists for ignoring FOIA requests related to the comment fraud, for refusing to be transparent about its meetings with large ISPs eager to see the rules repealed, and for hiding details of the DDoS attack that wasn't. These will all be joined by numerous lawsuits in the new year filed by consumer groups and smaller companies, who are likely chomping at the bit to prove the FCC violated agency procedure (and potentially the law) in its rush to give consumers the tech policy equivalent of a giant middle finger.

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Filed Under: comments, eric schneiderman, fcc, net neutrality

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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 Dec 2017 @ 11:50am


    Did you have an email address ending in .ARPA?


    Then sit down, shut up, and learn -- if you can manage it -- from those who were there. Here is lesson 1 of day 1:

    The Internet exists in large part BECAUSE OF GOVERNMENT ACTION. Not entirely. Some of it was academic, e.g., CSnet. Some of it was ad-hoc, e.g., Usenet. But the heavy lifting in the early days was done because DARPA wanted it done. And the coalescence of these disparate networks (as well as others) into what you know as "the Internet" was done in a cooperative manner with another heavy dose of government involvement.

    Your homework for tonight is to go look at all of the early RFCs and to focus, in particular, on the affiliations of their authors. Note how many of them were at government institutions. Note how many of the ones who were elsewhere were supported by federal government money. And finally, note that the nodenames ended in .ARPA for a really, really obvious reason. Hint: government.

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