You might remember that towards the end of 2017, millions of “fake net neutrality” comments were posted on the FCC’s website, with identical messages, that allegedly showed support of the FCC’s decision to overturn the Obama-era laws. Although the comments were pretty obviously made by bots, they used the identities of real people, including Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA). Now, according to Engadget, Merkley and Toomey have penned a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, asking him to investigate the identity fraud.
In their letter, Merkley and Toomey said they were “among those whose identities were misused to express viewpoints [they] do not hold,” on the FCC’s previous proposals. These two senators would like the commission to identify who or what was behind the fake comment, as well as to “adopt safeguards to prevent the same incident from happening in the future,” says Engadget. They would also like the FCC to disclose the total number of fake comments, and to explain how it is working with the Department of Justice to determine if laws have been broken. They are also asking the FCC to answer how many of the posts were made by bots, and if the commission could implement a CAPTCHA feature in the future. Perhaps most seriously, they want to know if any foreign government was involved in the incident.
Merkley and Toomey should not be alone in their concern. When the FCC originally worked with the New York Attorney General’s Office in investigating the comments, it was revealed that as many as 2 million American identities were used in this fraud.
Merkley and Toomey have described the necessity of their bipartisan team-up; they believe that the comment process of legislation is “an essential part of [American] democracy” and therefore they have a duty to prevent “the deliberate misuse of Americans’ personal information.”
Source: engadget.com – Senators ask the FCC to investigate fake net neutrality comments
Published: May 22, 2018