The FCC is blocking a law enforcement investigation into fraudulent comments designed to provide bogus support for the agency’s looming net neutrality repeal. New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced his office has been conducting an investigation into who submitted millions of fraudulent comments (some using the identities of dead people) during the public comment period.
The FCC is already facing a lawsuit alleging the agency ignored FOIA requests pertaining to these fake comments. The agency similarly told me there was nothing it could do after someone hijacked my identity to claim I falsely supported killing net neutrality protections.
Detailed analysis of the record 22 million comments filed with the agency indicate the majority of the public overwhelmingly supports keeping the rules intact. But several analysts also found that some group or individual tried to counter this genuine opposition with fake support for the plan. Schneiderman’s office believes these comments were filed by a bot that pulled identities from a compromised database of some kind.
“We all have a powerful reason to hold accountable those who would steal Americans’ identities and assault the public’s right to be heard in government rulemaking”
According to Schneiderman, his office made nine attempts over a period of five months to obtain server logs, API key details, or other information that could aid his office’s investigation into the identity theft. But in a public letter to FCC boss Ajit Pai, Schneiderman noted that the agency simply refused to aid the investigation in any capacity whatsoever.
“We all have a powerful reason to hold accountable those who would steal Americans’ identities and assault the public’s right to be heard in government rulemaking,” argued Schneiderman. “If law enforcement can’t investigate and (where appropriate) prosecute when it happens on this scale, the door is open for it to happen again and again.”
Last week, the FCC doubled down on its refusal to cooperate in a more formal response to the AG.