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FCC proposes overhaul to comment filing system

FCC proposes overhaul to comment filing system
© Greg Nash

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is planning to overhaul its comment filing system following reports of widespread fake submissions during the commenting period on the net neutrality rollback last year.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said in a letter to Sens. Pat ToomeyPatrick (Pat) Joseph ToomeyAppeals court rules NSA's bulk phone data collection illegal Dunford withdraws from consideration to chair coronavirus oversight panel GOP senators push for quick, partial reopening of economy MORE (R-Pa.) and Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Defense: Defense bill among Congress's year-end scramble | Iranian scientist's assassination adds hurdles to Biden's plan on nuclear deal | Navy scrapping USS Bonhomme Richard after fire Supreme Court declines to hear case challenging unlimited super PAC fundraising Trump supporters demonstrate across the country following Biden-Harris win MORE (D-Ore.) that the commission has put in a request with the House and Senate Appropriations committees to upgrade its Electronic Comment Filing System to crack down on comments from bots, noting that the FCC “inherited” this system from the Obama administration.

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“In addition to being technologically behind the times, the system that this Commission inherited from the prior Administration was designed to make it as easy as possible to file comments,” Pai wrote in the letter dated July 6. “But while facilitating widespread public participation in the rulemaking process is a worthy and important goal, we believe that we can accomplish that goal while at the same time updating our system to minimize the potential for abusive behavior.”

Pai's letter was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

The two senators penned a letter to Pai in May over concerns about the rampant fake automated comments on the net neutrality documents, including ones that had been submitted in the senator's names.

In Pai’s response, he echoed their concerns, noting that his identity had also been co-opted in comments. One of the upgrades he is proposing is to implement a CAPTCHA system, which is designed to weed out bots from humans through a challenge-response mechanism.