Ep. 25: Net Neutrality with FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

FCC's net neutrality repeal sparks backlash

The Federal Communications Commission's Office of Inspector General has agreed to cooperate with New York's investigation into allegedly fake public comments on net neutrality that were posted to the commission's website, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said Monday.

"With what would be a catastrophic vote by the FCC to repeal net neutrality looming, people are ready to take to the streets in protest and to offer Congress one last chance to answer the question: "Do you stand for your constituents" ability to communicate and connect, or do you stand for Verizon's bottom line?" said Mark Stanley, director of communications for Demand Progress, citing the overwhelming bipartisan support for net neutrality rules found in poll after poll.

South Dakota Senator John Thune says he is hearing about it.... The protests are being organized by Team Internet, a "grassroots network of almost half a million volunteer activists spearheaded by Demand Progress, Fight for the Future, and Free Press Action Fund, three of the groups behind the massive July 12 net neutrality day of action that drove millions of comments, emails, and phone calls to the FCC and Congress".

"The integrity of the public record matters". He has said that the FCC does not need to impose any tougher rules on ISPs to protect consumers, as the Federal Trade Commission will continue to do that. Schneiderman added that the feedback system was "corrupted" - a fact that he accuses the FCC of being well aware of.

The FCC received nearly 23 million comments since last spring, when Pai first made it clear that he would review the FCC's framework for its net neutrality rules.

In a November 21st open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Attorney General Schneiderman announced that his office has - for six months - been investigating the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments on the possible repeal of neutrality rules, which used real Americans' identities.

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Schneiderman said his team "discovered lots of anecdotal evidence" that some of the comments left on the FCC website appeared to not be legitimate, which ultimately led to his office's investigation.

Schneiderman said there are anecdotal reports of comments coming from dead people, children, fictional characters and Russian email addresses as well as from people whose names were used without their permission.

"For months", said Schneiderman, "we've been pleading with the FCC to help us with our investigation so we can get to the bottom of what happened and determine who is responsible".

Citing the findings of Schneiderman's office and other researchers, the senators wrote, "These reports raise serious concerns as to whether the record the FCC is now relying on has been tampered with and merits the full attention of, and investigation by, the FCC before votes on this item are cast". One campaign says it has generated more than 750,000 phone calls to legislators.

"Without additional information about the alleged anomalies surrounding the public record, the FCC can not conduct a thorough and fair evaluation of the public's views on this topic, and should not move forward with a vote", Hassan and 27 other senators - including Sens.

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