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) HassanOvernight Cybersecurity: Senators demand Trump detail cyber strategy | Election security bill faces hurdles | North Korea linked to new cyberattacks on Turkish financial sector Push to bolster election security stalls in Senate Overnight Health Care: Senators unveil bipartisan opioid bill | DOJ to seek reimbursements from opioid companies | Groups looking to end AIDS fear losing ground under Trump 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.”


The group included Sens. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmtrak to rename Rochester station after Louise Slaughter Conscience protections for health-care providers should be standard Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise MORE (D-N.Y.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersModerates see vindication in Lipinski’s primary win Sanders: Fox News 'couldn't handle' town hall on economic inequality Mississippi woman appointed to Senate, making Vermont only state to never have female lawmaker MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDems offering bill aimed at curbing stock buybacks Lessons from Dan Lipinski’s victory Michael Moore: Russia, Stormy Daniels stories are 'shiny keys to distract us' 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.