Comments appear to have been made by bot accounts.
The Federal Communications Commission has been in the public eye lately–far more than in most previous years, considering what they do–for attacks on the internet as most users know it. At the heart of the issue is net neutrality, which mandates that internet service providers cannot have “tiers” of service based on different websites.
While many ISPs offer various packages based on broadband speed and data usage, that’s not quite the same thing as saying your email will cost this much, but accessing Netflix, Facebook, or Google will cost you an extra $10 a month.
With the government’s first attempt at rolling back the Obama-era regulations on keeping the internet open and accessible, public outcry was quite vocal. Tech giants, experts, and consumers alike rallied together to voice disapproval of any plans that opened the door for consumers to be charged different amounts for using the internet how they saw fit. The only group not opposed to removing these regulations, of course, seemed to be the telecom providers; in fact, the advisory board that was supposed to help the FCC weigh in on this issue was stacked with telecom executives rather than IT experts.
But new findings in the recent debate have troubled a few members of Congress. The Senate voted last week to protect net neutrality after much debate and examining comments submitted by consumers. The alarming thing about the comments was the fact that many of them were identical–indicating they’d been submitted by bot accounts–and some Senators found their names in the comments…on the wrong side of the issue.
Differences put aside
According to Engadget, “Two Senators from opposing parties have put aside their differences to demand an investigation into the stolen identities that led to millions of fake net neutrality comments on the FCC’s website. In a letter addressed to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Senators Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Pat Toomey (R-PA) said they were ‘among those whose identities were misused to express viewpoints [they] do not hold’ on the FCC’s net neutrality proposals. They’re now asking the commission to identify the entity behind the fake comments, as well as to adopt safeguards to prevent the same incident from happening in the future.”
The Senators have called for an investigation into how their names were used this way, and in uncovering how many other comments were fraudulent. They would also like a clear reckoning as to who is behind this. They’ll just have to wait and see how forthcoming this agency is willing to be when it comes to its own antics.