The FCC acknowledges the problem but points out that numerous fraudulent comments come from people or groups who support the current net neutrality rules. An updated analysis by the Attorney General's office found that approximately one million of these comments may have misused the real names and addresses of Americans - including tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
The FCC's plan to roll back Title II Net Neutrality regulations has been the subject of dire controversy and heated debate lately.
Schneiderman pointed to a study paid for by an industry group that represents Internet service providers called Broadband for America, which he says has acknowledged that as many as eight million comments submitted to the FCC may have been fake.
Citing the findings of Schneiderman's office and other researchers, the senators wrote, "These reports raise serious concerns as to whether the record the FCC is now relying on has been tampered with and merits the full attention of, and investigation by, the FCC before votes on this item are cast".
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"They just have to stop this vote", Schneiderman said at a press conference, Variety reported. Virtually all opposed repealing the regulatory underpinning for the FCC's net neutrality rules.
The FCC's inspector general told Schneiderman Monday it would be assisting his office, but the attorney general said the agency needed to go farther.
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 FCC needs to get to the bottom of this mess. "In less than a week, we've received more than 3,000 responses from across the country and they continue to come in", Schneiderman said.
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. "We want to weigh all comments and make sure that we take a full view of the record and again make the appropriate judgment based on those facts and the law as it applies". A statement from the FCC chairman even claims that scrapping net neutrality protections is to keep the government from micromanaging the internet.
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The AG's office set up a web portal where anybody can enter their name to see if it was used fraudulently.
As Republicans now hold a majority of the FCC's five seats, the order to repeal the net neutrality rules is expected to pass. Twenty-eight United States senators have asked that the vote be postponed due to the allegations of fraud dismissed by Chairman Pai. Unlike legislative votes in Congress, concerned citizens don't have a local senator to complain to, and the FCC's comment process has left a lot to be desired.
"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.
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