Before the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted in late 2017, the agency gathered public opinion on the policy. In all, it said it received nearly 22 million comments. Over the years, there has been quite a bit of discussion about where many of them came from, with one from the same year suggesting that only six percent of the comments were unique.
After years of investigation, the New York State Attorney’s Office, Letitia James, has published one about exactly what happened in 2017. The investigation revealed that the “biggest” broadband companies funded a secret astroturfing campaign to push the FCC against abolishing net neutrality. At the time, AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile, Sprint and Verizon (Engadget̵
On the other hand, the FCC received an additional 9.3 million false comments in support of maintaining net neutrality. According to the report, most of them came from a single college student who was 19 at the time. They used automated software to generate the answers. All in all, of the more than 22 million comments the FCC received on the case, James says more than 18 million were false. In other words, more than 80 percent of the input the agency collected to inform its decision did not come from real people.
“The public record should be a place for honest dialogue, but today’s report shows how the record informing the FCC’s net neutrality was flooded with fraud,” he said in a statement to Engadget. “This was disturbing at the time, because even when the widespread problems with the post were clear. We need to learn from these lessons and improve, because the public deserves an open and fair opportunity to tell Washington what they think of that policy. affecting their lives. “
During, the FCC often fought any attempt to tackle the flawed commentary process with net neutrality. In the beginning of the state investigation, former New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman chided the agency for not helping his office investigate the case. As recently as last year, the FCC struggled to hand over IP addresses that would control the source of the comments.
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