AG Scheiderman: Fake Comments Corrupted FCC's Feedback On Net Neutrality

This image is for use with this specific article only.** Ajit Pai is the current FCC chairman

But the attorney general of NY and a Democratic commissioner at the FCC say the agency should delay the crucial vote on net neutrality.

From "no one owns the internet" to "this will destroy the internet", a great many lies are being peddled about the pending repeal in the United States of "net neutrality" - the remarkably manipulative name for a set of rules that grants government increased control over the internet.

Schneiderman says tens of thousands of people across the country may have had their names attached to the fake submissions. "That includes as many as 50,000 people here in NY", he said.

Schneiderman said that this violates NY law, and is investigating this issue on behalf of New Yorkers.

After learning that Schneiderman meant to hold a press conference today alongside FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the FCC Office of Inspector General reportedly contacted the NY attorney general by email and offered its assistance with the investigation.

But the FCC said it will stick to its December 14 plan to repeal the net neutrality rules that prevent Internet Service Providers from throttling or blocking content online, and prohibit ISPs from prioritizing some content over others, possibly for payment.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said at a news conference Monday that widespread irregularities tied to net neutrality feedback, including at least one million phony comments, have tainted the public commenting process.

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, a Democrat appointed by President Obama who supports keeping the current regulations, said that almost a half-million comments before the FCC were filed from Russian email addresses, and that 50,000 consumer complaints are missing from the record. Still, according to Schniederman, the FCC has refused to provide help to determine who may be responsible for the alleged fake commenting. "The FCC chairman and his staff have responded by stonewalling".

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Public comments play an important role at the FCC, which typically solicits feedback from the public before it votes to make significant policy changes.

Without the FCC's help, the New York Attorney General's office recently launched a webpage that allows Americans to search the FCC comment system to find out whether their identities had been stolen.

The FCC is expected later this month to repeal net neutrality. And the son of a woman from Albany contacted Schneiderman's office, he said, to report that she had passed away a month before a comment in her name was submitted.

The identity of one of Schneiderman's staff members was also used without her permission, he said. The order effectively abdicates the commission's authority to regulate internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Verizon in the US.

However, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is now considering a case that could limit the scope of the Federal Trade Commission's authority over internet service providers, above all regarding how they handle web traffic, with a ruling expected soon.

A spokesperson for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a Republican who backs overturning the current rules, said in response to Schneiderman's comments on Monday, "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". That's unacceptable. The FCC needs to correct this course immediately.

"While I fundamentally disagree with the merits of the FCC's proposal, what is equally concerning is the lack of integrity to the FCC's process that has led to this point", said FCC Commissioner Rosenworcel, a Democrat. The future of the Internet is at stake.

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