Fight For The Future (FFTF), a digital rights organizations, recently launched Comcastroturf.com, 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 attackRemove all of the fraudulent comments, including the ones made in our names, from the public docket immediatelyPublicly disclose any information the FCC may have about the group or person behind the 450,000+ fake commentsCall 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.