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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) HassanElection Countdown: O'Rourke brings in massive M haul | Deal on judges lets senators return to the trail | Hurricane puts Florida candidates in the spotlight | Adelson spending big to save GOP in midterms Former Dem aide makes first court appearance on charges of posting GOP senators' info online Ex-House intern charged with 'doxing' GOP senators during Kavanaugh hearing 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 SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (D-N.Y.), Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSanders: Trump setting 'terrible example' for our children Gabbard considering 2020 run: report Sanders, Harris set to criss-cross Iowa MORE (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenDNA is irrelevant — Elizabeth Warren is simply not Cherokee The Hill's 12:30 Report — Trump seizes on immigrant 'caravan' for midterms | WHCA criticizes Trump for praising lawmaker who assaulted reporter | Trump takes harder line on Saudis Clinton aide: Chances 'highly unlikely' but 'not zero' Hillary will run for president again 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.