FCC Still Lacks Information About Fake Net Neutrality Comments

The Federal Communications Commission still lacks information about recent slew of fake comments regarding net neutrality, including whether any came from foreign governments and how many came from bots, Chairman Ajit Pai says in a letter to lawmakers.

Pai's letter came in response to a series of questions about the recent net neutrality proceeding posed by Senators Jeff Merkley (D-Oregon) and Pat Toomey (R-Pennsylvania). Both lawmakers said their identities were used in fake net neutrality comments.

Last year, the FCC received a record-setting 24 million comments regarding its plan to repeal net neutrality. But up to an estimated 2 million were submitted under fake names or by Russian bots. The lawmakers asked FCC a host of questions, including whether the agency is working with the Department of Justice and state attorneys general to investigate, and whether the agency is implementing steps to prevent a recurrence.

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Pai said in his letter that he and his wife were among the victims of fraudulent commenters.

"Like you, comments were submitted in my name and my wife's name that reflect viewpoints we do not hold," he wrote.

The FCC Chairman added that the agency plans to revamp an outdated platform for comments on proposed rules.

"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 writes. "But while facilitating widespread public participation in the rulemaking process is a worthy and important goal, we believe that we can accomplish this goal while at the same time updating our system to minimize the potential for abusive behavior."

Pai said the FCC has requested funds for upgrades and other revisions, including instituting a CAPTCHA or other tool aimed at combatting bots.

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