This is kind of a big deal. Two Senators, one Republican and one Democrat, who were impersonated during net neutrality repeal, call on FCC to investigate millions of fake comments
Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR), whose identities were stolen and used to submit fraudulent comments to the FCC during its net neutrality repeal proceeding, just sent a bipartisan letter to chairman Ajit Pai, calling for a thorough investigation into the millions of fake messages that flooded the agency’s docket last year.
That’s a pretty big deal. As far as I know, its the first time a GOP lawmaker has acknowledged the rampant fraud and abuse that has plagued the FCC’s net neutrality repeal process. Its also all the more reason for everyone to contact their House members right now and tell them to vote to block the FCC repeal to ensure that protections don’t lapse while an investigation takes place.
If you’re catching up, the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality was not only overwhelmingly unpopular, but the process was riddled with serious issues. Millions of fraudulent comments were submitted using real people’s names and addresses without their knowledge or consent. Some of those people even sent a letter to the FCC asking that the fraudulent comments made in their names be removed, and the agency refused. Meanwhile, questions swirled around the FCC’s claim that its comment system had been hit by a DDoS attack at the exact same time that large numbers of pro-net neutrality comments would have been flooding in immediately following John Oliver’s viral segment on the issue.
These process issues seem like they’re sort of beside the point. The FCC repeal is a blatant give-away to Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T — what does it matter how badly Ajit Pai cheated along the way? The reality is that it matters a lot. These “irregularities” in the process will likely become a major issue in the lawsuits surrounding the repeal.
The bipartisan letter highlights increasing scrutiny from Republicans lawmakers, who have been under tremendous pressure to denounce the FCC’s repeal, which is opposed by the overwhelming majority of GOP and Independent voters. Last week, in a historic upset, three GOP Senators voted in support of a Senate CRA resolution to block the FCC’s repeal. A handful of House Reps have previously criticized the agency’s decision. This letter will give others an opportunity, and some political cover, to do the right thing and vote for the CRA, in order to ensure that net neutrality protections don’t lapse while an investigation into the fraudulent comments takes place.
We have a fierce battle ahead of us in the House, but this letter should help a bit.