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. The order effectively abdicates the commission's authority to regulate internet service providers (ISPs), such as Comcast and Verizon.
Although industry groups supporting Chairman Pai agree that, under his watch, the security and integrity of the commenting processing has been deeply compromised, Pai has publicly dismissed Schneiderman's investigation, calling it a "transparent attempt by a partisan supporter of the Obama Administration's heavy-handed Internet regulations to gain publicity for himself".
More than 20 million comments were submitted - but Schneiderman says many of them are fake.
Content providers Apple and Google support net neutrality, taking the stance that consumers are already paying for connectivity and deserve to have a quality experience.
The FCC received nearly 23 million comments since last spring, when Pai first made it clear he would review the FCC's framework for its net neutrality rules, Variety reported.
"The FCC is on course to eliminate net neutrality guided by a record corrupted by hundreds of thousands of filings with stolen identities", Rosenworcel said.
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The FCC's commenting system is not like an election.
The city of NY and numerous groups supporting net neutrality have urged the FCC in a letter to delay the vote to allow for debate on the issue. "We've got to fix it before we proceed with a vote". By Monday, Schneiderman said, they had received more than 3,000 responses - including, he said, from a man who said his deceased mother's name had been used. One campaign says it has generated more than 750,000 phone calls to legislators. Speaking at a conference in February, he said that two years after the rules were put it in place, "it is evident that the FCC made a mistake (which) injected tremendous uncertainty into the broadband market, and uncertainty is the enemy of growth".
As Republicans now hold a majority of the FCC's five seats, the order to repeal the net neutrality rules is expected to pass. Twenty-eight USA senators have asked that the vote be postponed due to the allegations of fraud dismissed by Chairman Pai.
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".
With the FCC set to vote on chairman Ajit Pai's plan to kill neutrality in just over a week, a diverse coalition-ranging from consumer protection organizations to progressive lawmakers to Harvard professors-is denouncing the FCC's proposals and scheduling nationwide protests to combat the agency's move to let massive telecom companies "cash in on the internet" at the expense of consumers.