Group of senators calls on FCC to delay net neutrality vote

Twenty-eight senators are calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to delay its vote on repealing its net neutrality rules next week, citing concerns over the possibility that the agency’s public comment file may be filled with fake comments.

The group, led by Sen. Maggie HassanMargaret (Maggie) HassanDemocrats turn on Al Franken The Hill's 12:30 Report Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (D-N.H.), wants the FCC to conduct an investigation into whether the net neutrality docket’s public comment record was tampered with.

“A free and open Internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding,” the senators wrote in a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. “In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.”

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The group included Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmerica isn't ready to let Sessions off his leash Schumer celebrates New York Giants firing head coach: ‘About time’ GOP should reject the left's pessimism and the deficit trigger MORE (D-N.Y.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Regulation: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court battle | Watchdog to investigate EPA chief's meeting with industry group | Ex-Volkswagen exec gets 7 years for emissions cheating Overnight Tech: Net neutrality supporters predict tough court fight | Warren backs bid to block AT&T, Time Warner merger | NC county refuses to pay ransom to hackers Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (D-Mass.). All of the senators who signed the letter are net neutrality supporters.

The FCC will vote on Dec. 14 to scrap the Obama-era rules that prevent internet service providers from discriminating against certain content. The agency was flooded nearly 22 million comments, a record, when it sought public input on Pai’s plan to repeal the rules.

The letter cited New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s investigation into fake comments filed with the FCC on net neutrality. Schneiderman said last month that his office had found that “tens of thousands” of New York residents may have been impersonated by fake commenters.

The senators also noted that 50,000 net neutrality consumer complaints may not have been included in the public record.

“A transparent and open process is vitally important to how the FCC functions,” the letter reads. “The FCC must invest its time and resources into obtaining a more accurate picture of the record as understanding that record is essential to reaching a defensible resolution to this proceeding.”

CORRECTION: An initial version of this story misstated the number of senators on the letter to the FCC.