A group of House Democrats are urging the Government Accountability Office (GAO) to investigate fake comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on the agency’s efforts to repeal its net neutrality rules.
Eleven Democrats sent a letter to the GAO on Monday raising concerns about the use of fake or stolen identities in the net neutrality comment record.
“We understand that the FCC’s rulemaking process requires it to address all comments it receives, regardless of who submits them,” the letter reads. “However, we do not believe any outside parties should be permitted to generate any comments to any federal government entity using information it knows to be false, such as the identities of those submitting the comments.”
The group was led by Reps. Gregory MeeksGregory Weldon MeeksUS faces daunting task in relationship with Haiti Overnight Defense & National Security — China steps up saber rattling White House puts China on notice MORE (D-N.Y.), Elijah CummingsElijah Eugene CummingsFormer GOP congressional candidate Kimberly Klacik suing Candace Owens for defamation Former Cummings staffer unveils congressional bid McCarthy, GOP face a delicate dance on Jan. 6 committee MORE (D-Md.) and Frank Pallone Jr.Frank Joseph PalloneHouse Democrats announce bill to rein in tech algorithms House Democrats ramp up probe of FDA approval of Alzheimer's drug Intercept bureau chief: Democrats dropping support of Medicare for All could threaten bill's momentum MORE (D-N.J.).
Over the summer, the FCC received nearly 22 million comments when it asked for public input on its plan to repeal the 2015 net neutrality rules, which prohibit internet service providers from discriminating against certain content. Some studies have found evidence that bots were used to spam the record with fake messages in some instances.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman (D) said this week that his office identified about 1 million comments that may have been submitted under stolen identities. Schneiderman, who supports the net neutrality rules, joined a growing list of Democrats who called on the FCC to cancel its Dec. 14 vote to repeal rules.
The Democrats in their letter this week also said they are “concerned that the FCC appears to be withholding information requested by Attorney General Schneiderman to allow him to investigate these abuses."
The FCC has dismissed the Democrats' campaign as a politically motivated attempt to stall the repeal vote.