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SD Senator John Thune; Time to Roll Back Net Neutrality

05 December 2017

Today, Public Knowledge joined 40 other consumer protection groups, digital divide advocates, and local government agencies - including New York City - in a letter urging Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai to delay the vote on the "Restoring Internet Freedom" Draft Order, which would roll back the agency's net neutrality rules if adopted.

Schneiderman's office has launched investigation into alleged fraudulent comments filed with the FCC both for and against dismantling the rules, and found that up to a million of the 23 million total comments received by the FCC may be fraudulent.

The Attorney General's Office has set up a website for New Yorkers where you can check to see if your identity was used without your consent. "But my office's investigation found that this process was deeply corrupted - with one million comments that may have been submitted using real people's stolen identities", said Attorney General Schneiderman.

Schneiderman said there are anecdotal reports of comments coming from dead people, children, fictional characters and Russian email addresses as well as from people whose names were used without their permission.

Meanwhile, an FCC member called on the commission to delay a scheduled December 14 vote on repealing net neutrality rules enacted under the Obama administration until an investigation can be completed. The agency has also said it "lacks the resources" to investigate every one of the comment records.

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On Cyber Monday alone over 200 companies signed a letter to the FCC in strong support of net neutrality regulations, claiming that major sales periods for businesses - like Black Friday - are only possible with a free and open internet. "It is incumbent on the FCC and all of my colleagues to stand back, figure out what's happening with this record before us, and get to the bottom of these stolen identities".

Schneiderman accused the FCC of "stonewalling" on the investigation, although he said that the FCC inspector general had recently offered to help.

Pai said the FCC will vote on December 14 to repeal the 2015 regulations it put in place that require internet Service Providers, or ISPs, to offer equal access to all users.

Schneiderman said his team "discovered lots of anecdotal evidence" that some of the comments left on the FCC website appeared to not be legitimate, which ultimately led to his office's investigation. While Pai contends the regulations were hurting ISPs, opponents say it crucially prevented them from imposing restrictive measures such as speed throttling or content preference. An FCC spokesperson previously dismissed the complaints as "nothing more than a transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama Administration's heavy-handed internet regulations to gain publicity for himself". "There needs to be federal investigation", he said.

SD Senator John Thune; Time to Roll Back Net Neutrality