Victims Whose Names Were Used In Fake FCC Comments Call For Investigation

Fight For The Future (FFTF), a digital rights organizations, recently launched, where people can check whether or not their names have been used to create fake anti-net neutrality comments for submission to the FCC. The victims are now demanding the FCC starts an investigation into this issue.

Almost Half A Million Fake Comments

The FFTF said that the botnet has created over 450,000 comments using the names of real people. The comments were asking the FCC to kill the net neutrality regulation former the FCC leadership passed in 2015.

According to Chris Sinchok, a developer from Chicago, it’s rather easy to spot the botnet-made comments because they were submitted at a near-constant rate, which is something that a typical script would do (post comments every 60 seconds, etc). Another indication that these type of comments were submitted by a botnet was that the botnet would “pause” for a few hours, and then it would start submitting comments at a high rate again.

The bottom line is that the botnet would fill the comment forms in a rather consistent way with a certain cadence, as you would expect a robot to do. However, it’s possible that future similar actions could become more “unpredictable” as the botnet owners try to hide their activity and make the submissions seem more random.

Victims Demand Investigation

Some of the victims whose names were used to create the fake anti-net neutrality comments have sent a letter to the FCC in which they demand the following actions:

  • Notify all who have been impacted by this attack
  • Remove all of the fraudulent comments, including the ones made in our names, from the public docket immediately
  • Publicly disclose any information the FCC may have about the group or person behind the 450,000+ fake comments
  • Call for an investigation by the appropriate authorities into possible violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (“making false statements”) and other relevant laws.

Aji Pai, the new FCC chairman, has been quite open about wanting to eliminate net neutrality rules, saying that they harm the free internet (as in free from regulations). Therefore, it would seem that the fake comments demanding the same thing favor Pai’s position on the issue. However, those who signed the letter hope that the FCC will not move forward with a decision on net neutrality without first removing the fake comments and finding out who submitted them.

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  • AgentLozen
    What kind of person would make a botnet that fills the FCC with fake comments that supports killing net neutrality. I was under the impression that, generally speaking, net neutrality was good for the internet. The only people who seem to oppose it are those who are horribly misinformed or companies that directly benefit from the death of net neutrality.

    Assuming this is a single person sitting in their basement cobbling together a list of names and fake comments to send to the FCC, this person would have to belong to the later group. Right? Is there anyone well informed that still wants to kill net neutrality? Some Cisco Certified Internet Architect that hates net neutrality?

    I dunno. This whole situation doesn't make any sense. The only explanation that I can come up with is that a party that stands to benefit from the death of net neutrality has hired a hacker to spam the FCC with false comments. Aren't these big companies supposed to operate in a respectful and lawful way? And if they don't, shouldn't they be subject to the same criminal consequences that everyone else is?
  • coolitic
    I find it highly unlikely that someone wouldn't include a bit of randomization for the timing of the script.
  • ammaross
    Anonymous said:
    I find it highly unlikely that someone wouldn't include a bit of randomization for the timing of the script.

    Depends on their age and experience level. Also may depend on how serious they take the project on whether they decide to go above and beyond the scope of the original request. Could easily be someone (out of country) hired via Freelance or the like, being paid $200 for a quick'n'dirty job.