Opinion: Fraud investigation should delay the FCC’s net neutrality vote

Further revelations about the fraudulent use of American identities to corrupt the FCC’s public comment process should delay the ‘net neutrality’ vote.

At the end of last month, Telecoms reported on an investigation into the fraudulent use of real American identities to corrupt the FCC’s public comment process in regards to the upcoming ‘net neutrality’ vote. The office of New York State Attorney General A.G. Schneiderman has now provided an update on its investigation.

Two million fake comments have now been identified using stolen identities, claims the office. We’ve been able to confirm a couple of personal contacts whose identities have been used to make fake comments in favour of revoking net neutrality rules.

The notice and comment process allows citizens and businesses to share their valuable opinions. With how far-reaching and impacting net neutrality rules are, there’s certainly an abundance of opinions to be voiced.

Attorney General Schneiderman comments:

Millions of fake comments have corrupted the FCC public process – including two million that stole the identities of real people, a crime under New York law,

Yet the FCC is moving full steam ahead with a vote based on this corrupted process, while refusing to cooperate with an investigation. As we’ve told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda. The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened.

Example reports of fake comments made to Schneiderman’s office:

“This is a 13 year old child – she did not post this comment, nor did anyone else in her household.” – Rochester, NY

“This comment was made on July 11th, 2017. This is a fake comment... I am her son, and can confirm it was not her. [She] died of cancer on June 8th, 2017.” – Albany, NY

“I am a service member in the United States Navy. I was… on a flight from Bahrain to Boston at the time the comments were submitted.” – Florida

Over the past few years, we’ve heard evidence of Russia increasingly using cyber means to influence big decisions; including the US presidential elections. While it’s likely the attack was conducted by a national actor with a vested interest in eliminating net neutrality rules, continuing with the vote — without taking into account the corruption — will only embolden any national or global actor(s) looking to use cyber means to influence key decisions.

What’s perhaps more concerning is the FCC’s apparent lack of willingness to assist with the investigation. As a government body, it should be in the FCC’s interest to find the perpetrators and prevent democratic processes being corrupted in the future.

A lack of investigation will also further embolden perpetrators with the feeling they will not face justice for their actions. If the FCC cares about democracy, the net neutrality vote should be postponed until this matter is settled.

The FCC’s net neutrality vote is scheduled for Thursday, December 14, at 10:30 a.m. Eastern time. A database can be searched to discover if your identity has been used to post a fake comment here.

Do you think the FCC’s net neutrality vote should be delayed? Let us know in the comments.

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