FCC asked to remove fake comments on net neutrality

FCC asked to remove fake comments on net neutrality
© Greg Nash

Individuals whose identities were used without their permission on comments to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  are speaking out to the agency.

In a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai signed by 14 people, the group offers support for the principle of net neutrality, after the fake comments under their names called for the end of those rules. 

They also called for the comments to be removed. 

“We are disturbed by reports that indicate you have no plans to remove these fraudulent comments from the public docket,” the group wrote in a letter posted on Fight for the Future's web site 

“Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, publicly exposed our private information without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto.”

Earlier in May, several news outlets reported that fake anti-net neutrality comments were being filed to the FCC.

The comments were identical: "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation. 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."

The number of fake comments could be in the hundreds of thousands.

The 14 people who signed the letter asking that the comments be removed are just a handful of the names used on the comments. 

In their letter, the group called on the FCC to notify everyone affected by fake comments, remove such comments and publicly disclose any information that they might have about the fake comments.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's plan to roll back the Obama-era net neutrality provisions is up for public comment on the FCC's website. Pai's plan, titled "Restoring Internet Freedom," has been met with heavy opposition from consumer groups and smaller technology companies, but it has received support from telecommunications giants like AT&T and Verizon.

When asked for comment, an FCC spokesperson pointed to Pai's response on the matter from the open meeting.

"Of course this is not new: fake comments were filed in the 2014-15 proceeding under names like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Stalin, just to name a few," Pai said at the meeting. "This time around I think the bottom line is I urge everyone who's interested in this issue to participate in the process in an honest and forthright way, and that is, I think, the best way to make sure your voice is heard."