Eighteen state attorneys general on Wednesday asked the Federal Communications Commission to postpone a planned vote on net neutrality until investigators have weeded out fake comments submitted to the agency about its proposed rollback.
"If the well of public comment has been poisoned by falsified submissions, the Commission may be unable to rely on public comments that would help it reach a legitimate conclusion to the rulemaking process," the law enforcement officials write. "Or, it must give less weight to the public comments submitted which also undermines the process."
The FCC is scheduled to vote Thursday on a proposal to repeal net neutrality rules that prohibit broadband providers from blocking or throttling traffic and from creating paid fast lanes. The agency is expected to repeal the rules on a 3-2 party line vote.
The officials' letter comes several days after the FCC rejected a request to assist New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's investigation into at least one million fake comments -- including comments apparently generated by bots -- regarding net neutrality.
"A careful review of the publicly available information revealed a pattern of fake submissions using the names of real people," Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum writes in a letter signed by 17 other state attorneys general. "In fact, there may be over one million fake submissions from across the country. This is akin to identity theft on a massive scale."
Rosenblum and the others add that the planned net neutrality repeal has "far-reaching implications for the everyday life of Americans," and requires "the utmost integrity of the administrative process."
Some lawmakers -- nearly all Democrats -- have also urged the FCC to delay the vote.
But dozens of Republican lawmakers say the agency should proceed with plans to do away with the net neutrality rules. On Wednesday, more than 100 House Republicans signed a letter urging Pai to move forward with the repeal.