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Feds Plan Investigation Into Fraudulent FCC Comments

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) announced that it will formally investigate the submission of fake comments on the FCC website during the public hearing period for the net neutrality repeal decision.

Recall that in the lead up to the December 14 vote that ended net neutrality, there were multiple calls, such as that from New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, accusing the FCC of relying on fake comments to support its case to repeal. In a letter to Congressman Pallone, the GAO stated that it had accepted his and nine other Democrats’ request to investigate the fake comments. The personnel required for the investigation are currently unavailable, so it won’t begin for another five months.

The Democrats’ original request addressed both fake comments and comments submitted under stolen, but real, identities. It was clear that they were seeking to investigate both the extent and influence of fake comments on the FCC’s decision. It read as follows:

Congressmen Gregory W. Meeks (NY-05), Elijah E. Cummings (MD-07), and Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-06) led six other Democrats in sending a letter to the Government Accountability Office (GAO) requesting that it investigate and issue a report that uncovers the extent that outside groups were using false identities during the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) recent net neutrality rulemaking process.

However, the GAO’s response only addresses “fraud and misuses of American identities” and doesn’t explicitly address fake comments or the influence of said comments on the repeal decision. We hope this isn’t careful wording that avoids investigating the broader issue. Although stolen identities were used to submit a huge amount of comments, bot-generated comments with fake emails contributed too. Ars Technica recently reported on a study which revealed that only 17.4% of the comments were unique. The majority of the total comments were anti-net neutrality, but the majority of identified real comments were pro-net neutrality.

  • derekullo
    The FCC relied on comments to support its case to repeal ...

    FCC: All of the research shows most of America and the World are for net neutrality.

    FCC: McNewGuy open a forum on the FCC website and check all of the reddit pages that are against net neutrality.

    FCC: Then we can throw away the research and quote those people.

    FCC McNewGuy: Boss, don't you mean all of reddit?

    FCC: How are comments for net neutrality going to help us get rid of net neutrality?

    FCC: Think McNewGuy Think!
    Reply
  • Dantte
    This is a joke, right; Democrats are reaching here, implying that the repeal of NN was wrong because comments influenced the decision?

    Social media responses are not a measure of American's opinions; ask your self, how do you then measure the silent majority/minority? Remember what the polls said about the Presidential election, Trump was supposed to lose by 10+ points, but the silent majority came out and voted and Trump had a landslide victory! Yet now, Democrats want those opinions 'polls' to be the measure even though they can be, and were extremely false, simply because they work in their favor, and Tom's has fallen into this same delusional thought!
    Reply
  • hellwig
    It's hard to listen to the "silent majority" when they don't speak. Pre-election polls are different from the FCC soliciting input from the citizens it is supposed to be working for.

    The "silent majority" was not silent IF they actually voted. They spoke with their votes. Since the FCC's decision was not open to public vote, the comments WERE the way for American's to speak out.

    By relating this back to your own example, imagine if Trump won because FAKE votes were cast in HIS favor (which, oddly enough, HE supports investigating even though he won). If FALSE comments were provided to the FCC through the ONLY official means to voice opinions, those comments are as bad (in terms of the FCCs decision) as voter fraud would have been in the election (assuming there was any voter fraud, waiting on that evidence).
    Reply
  • Dantte
    20631267 said:
    It's hard to listen to the "silent majority" when they don't speak. Pre-election polls are different from the FCC soliciting input from the citizens it is supposed to be working for.

    The "silent majority" was not silent IF they actually voted. They spoke with their votes. Since the FCC's decision was not open to public vote, the comments WERE the way for American's to speak out.

    By relating this back to your own example, imagine if Trump won because FAKE votes were cast in HIS favor (which, oddly enough, HE supports investigating even though he won). If FALSE comments were provided to the FCC through the ONLY official means to voice opinions, those comments are as bad (in terms of the FCCs decision) as voter fraud would have been in the election (assuming there was any voter fraud, waiting on that evidence).

    The "silent majority" did in a way vote on the repeal of NN. American is a representative-republic, we elected and appoint officials to case their vote for those they represent. Not everything can goto a public vote, that would be a pure democracy, something America is not but social media would like you to believe. When the FCC case their vote to repeal NN, they spoke for everyone, and the majority won, silent or not. To quote Obama, "elections have consequences."

    Bottom line is, if you want NN, there needs to be legislation, we are a nation of laws, and anything that was willy-nilly put in place like NN can just as easily willy-nilly be removed!
    Reply
  • Twoboxer
    Making decisions by social media was tried in Rome at the Colosseum with less than outstanding results.

    Neither side has the right answer. Forcing companies with huge investments to offer competitive content without direct compensation is just wrong. Allowing some to stream massive content at the bandwidth expense of others is also wrong.

    OTOH . . . the problem started 50+ years ago when politicians caved to lobbying and bribes to give permanent monopolies to cable companies by town, county, etc. No patent or investment deserves protection forever.

    Fix the lack of direct competition to cable companies, to telephone companies, and to satellite companies. Then allow all the providers to compete. Until then, some bastardized form of control has to be exerted.
    Reply
  • gggplaya
    20631267 said:
    It's hard to listen to the "silent majority" when they don't speak. Pre-election polls are different from the FCC soliciting input from the citizens it is supposed to be working for.

    The "silent majority" was not silent IF they actually voted. They spoke with their votes. Since the FCC's decision was not open to public vote, the comments WERE the way for American's to speak out.

    By relating this back to your own example, imagine if Trump won because FAKE votes were cast in HIS favor (which, oddly enough, HE supports investigating even though he won). If FALSE comments were provided to the FCC through the ONLY official means to voice opinions, those comments are as bad (in terms of the FCCs decision) as voter fraud would have been in the election (assuming there was any voter fraud, waiting on that evidence).

    Keep in mind that we are a Republic. The FCC doesn't make these decisions on it's own, congress makes the rules and the FCC has to implement it. The people VOTE for their representatives in congress, to represent them with these decisions. So the social media posts are moot, people are supposed to write to their representatives to vote the repeal down. Let's be realistic, it's not like any social media posts from the trump admin, or the FCC would have changed anyone's mind on how they feel about net neutrality.

    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    20633888 said:
    20631267 said:
    It's hard to listen to the "silent majority" when they don't speak. Pre-election polls are different from the FCC soliciting input from the citizens it is supposed to be working for.

    The "silent majority" was not silent IF they actually voted. They spoke with their votes. Since the FCC's decision was not open to public vote, the comments WERE the way for American's to speak out.

    By relating this back to your own example, imagine if Trump won because FAKE votes were cast in HIS favor (which, oddly enough, HE supports investigating even though he won). If FALSE comments were provided to the FCC through the ONLY official means to voice opinions, those comments are as bad (in terms of the FCCs decision) as voter fraud would have been in the election (assuming there was any voter fraud, waiting on that evidence).

    Keep in mind that we are a Republic. The FCC doesn't make these decisions on it's own, congress makes the rules and the FCC has to implement it. The people VOTE for their representatives in congress, to represent them with these decisions. So the social media posts are moot, people are supposed to write to their representatives to vote the repeal down. Let's be realistic, it's not like any social media posts from the trump admin, or the FCC would have changed anyone's mind on how they feel about net neutrality.

    It depends on how many votes the fake propaganda from Russia swayed, if the people are really being represented properly right now. I suspect many millions of people voted differently due to the Russian propaganda scheme. With that said the FCC has had an open form to post comments and it was abused(I posted my comment in there as well). Maybe it would change nothing, but I have a feeling if they had 20 million comments against they would think about their political aspirations and it may change how they voted. Meaning they may have thought they were serving the will of the people due to the hijacked comments they in fact were not.
    Reply
  • JamesSneed
    20632155 said:
    Making decisions by social media was tried in Rome at the Colosseum with less than outstanding results.

    Neither side has the right answer. Forcing companies with huge investments to offer competitive content without direct compensation is just wrong. Allowing some to stream massive content at the bandwidth expense of others is also wrong.

    OTOH . . . the problem started 50+ years ago when politicians caved to lobbying and bribes to give permanent monopolies to cable companies by town, county, etc. No patent or investment deserves protection forever.

    Fix the lack of direct competition to cable companies, to telephone companies, and to satellite companies. Then allow all the providers to compete. Until then, some bastardized form of control has to be exerted.

    The lack of competition just gets worse each passing year as companies consolidate so I don't foresee this getting better. So we need some basic rules, tossing them out was stupid. We need some basic rules to allow competition regardless if it's a little startup or a huge company like Verizon.

    Why "we" don't make the rules better baffles me. I think our politicians have forgotten how to compromise. Seriously getting out of hand one side gets something in the other side, once they have a majority, decides its crap and removes it. Instead of continuous improvement we get this back and forth mess at the end of the day nothing changes.

    I think any reasonable person can see there needs to be rules so we don't let virtual monopolies stifle competition and drive prices up as they naturally will since they have stockholders. At the same time a compromise that allows the companies to make more money in certain ways, especially off the very high bandwidth users. It's not rocket science, why our politicians can't get a compromise between the people and business anymore baffles me.



    Reply
  • tech4
    20632155 said:

    Neither side has the right answer. Forcing companies with huge investments to offer competitive content without direct compensation is just wrong. Allowing some to stream massive content at the bandwidth expense of others is also wrong.

    They already are getting their compensation by having tiered speed prices offered for service, 25Mbps, 100Mbps, 1Gbps, that is their money. They shouldn't be allowed to double down and pick and choose if you actually get those speeds depending on what you use it for. The streaming bandwidth at the expense of others is on them too. If they cannot reliably provide a speed to each of their customers in an area, they shouldn't be selling that tier if the infrastructure doesn't support it yet.
    Reply
  • sykozis
    20634459 said:
    Why "we" don't make the rules better baffles me. I think our politicians have forgotten how to compromise. Seriously getting out of hand one side gets something in the other side, once they have a majority, decides its crap and removes it. Instead of continuous improvement we get this back and forth mess at the end of the day nothing changes.

    I think any reasonable person can see there needs to be rules so we don't let virtual monopolies stifle competition and drive prices up as they naturally will since they have stockholders. At the same time a compromise that allows the companies to make more money in certain ways, especially off the very high bandwidth users. It's not rocket science, why our politicians can't get a compromise between the people and business anymore baffles me.



    It's not that they have forgotten how to come to a compromise. It's that they refuse to. Large corporations make "campaign contributions" (or in honest terms, bribes) to ensure that they're treated more favorably than the general population. Senators and Representatives are more concerned about ensuring the "campaign contributions" keep flowing into their pockets than they are about representing the interests of the people they actually serve.
    Reply