Technology

FCC flooded with fake comments opposing net neutrality

An internet bot may be filing tens of thousands of fake comments to the Federal Communications Commission opposing the agency's net neutrality rules.

The bot is filing comments with the names of real people. Many of those people were contacted by ZDNet and said they did not file those comments on the FCC site.

The purported bot may have filed over 58,000 identical comments against net neutrality, encouraging the FCC to follow through on Chairman Ajit Pai's proposal to roll back the controversial internet rules.

The rules require internet service providers to treat all web traffic the same. Pai's plan would hand over regulatory oversight over broadband providers to the Federal Trade Commission and allow companies to voluntarily enact net neutrality principles.

"The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation," the comment posted by the bots reads. "I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years."

Pai recently unveiled his "Restoring Internet Freedom" plan to undo the Obama-era net neutrality rules, and the agency has begun accepting public comments on the proposal.

The agency has received a flood of comments on the topic after comedian John Oliver blasted Pai's proposal on his Sunday HBO show, "Last Week Tonight."

Shortly after Oliver encouraged people to post comments in favor of the rules, the FCC Electronic Comment Filing System went down.

The agency said it was because of a cyber hit, claiming the site endured a Distributed Denial of Service of attack.

But some Democratic senators have expressed skepticism and questioned and asked for more details on the attack.

Pai's proposal has been lauded by Republicans in Congress and telecommunications companies who have complained about the net neutrality rules since they were approved in 2015.

Public interest groups and smaller tech firms are fighting to save the rules, saying they are necessary to maintain a level playing field on the internet, and protect consumer interests.

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