Senators Seek Delay on Net Neutrality Vote

Posted December 05, 2017

NY attorney general Eric Schneiderman, FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, and 28 senators want the FCC to delay its upcoming net neutrality vote, giving investigators more time to look into a spate of fake public comments submitted under real peoples' names.

The FCC received nearly 23 million comments since last spring, when Pai first made it clear that he would review the FCC's framework for its net neutrality rules. The FCC and the FCC Inspector General's office had been unwilling to provide records necessary to investigate who may be behind the misused identities - a departure from past practice, where the FCC has cooperated with the Attorney General's office on confidential investigations into practices that harmed New Yorkers and residents of other states.

He said that his office's own review of the public filings showed that about 1 million comments may have used names that were in fact stolen identities.

More than 20 million comments were submitted - but Schneiderman says many of them are fake.

Last week, Schneiderman's office unveiled an online tool that helped people see if their names had been used without their knowledge on comments submitted to the FCC.

The FCC is scheduled to hold a vote on December 14th over an order to replace and repeal the 2015 rules enforcing net neutrality.

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In an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai published on the website Medium on November 21, Schneiderman said he was investigating a "massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process" through the use of fake public comments on the subject of net neutrality.

The senators, led by Democrat Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire, wrote to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai expressing concern over reports that bots filed hundreds of thousands of comments. That is why I support net neutrality. "No vote should take place until a responsible investigation is complete", she said.

The FCC received almost 22 million comments when it asked for public input on the plan to scrap the rules that prevent internet service providers from discriminating against certain content, The Hill reported. Further, Schneiderman notes that 50,000 consumer complaints are missing from the FCC record.

Prior to releasing the open letter, the Attorney General's office had contacted the FCC and its top officials at least nine times to request assistance in its investigation.

Pai, who was once the associate general counsel for Verizon and was nominated to the commission by Obama, has favored rolling back net neutrality regulations, an Obama-era rule that treats broadband like a public utility. "This is an attempt by people who want to keep the Obama Administration's heavy-handed Internet regulations to delay the vote because they realize that their effort to defeat the plan to restore internet freedom has stalled". But Schneiderman said that "unless we get the information from the FCC, it's anecdotal evidence".