New York Attorney General Wants Net Neutrality Vote to Be Delayed

Saul Bowman
December 5, 2017

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman took aim at the integrity of the FCC's rule-making proceeding to roll back many of its current net neutrality rules, pointing to evidence that numerous public comments filed come from stolen identities or are fake.

The New York Attorney General's office has been working on getting to the bottom of the fake FCC net neutrality comment controversy for months. The FCC and the FCC Inspector General's office had been unwilling to provide records necessary to investigate who may be behind the misused identities - a departure from past practice, where the FCC has cooperated with the Attorney General's office on confidential investigations into practices that harmed New Yorkers and residents of other states.

Schneiderman says tens of thousands of people across the country may have had their names attached to the fake submissions.

The page "allows anyone that thinks their identity may have been stolen to check the complete file of FCC comments and see if a fake submission was made in their name".

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.


In all, 27 senators signed the letter - expressing concern that the public comments in the case, a significant part of the FCC's modernization plan, could be corrupted by "bots". Verizon has been a proponent of the FCC's move to repeal net neutrality, and new FCC chairman Ajit Pai is a former Verizon lawyer, so protesting Verizon stores makes about as much sense as anything else. But Schneiderman said that "unless we get the information from the FCC, it's anecdotal evidence". Between June and November, Schneiderman's office requested logs and "other records" from the FCC nine times, but has received "no substantive response to our investigative requests".

A spokesperson for the FCC said, "At today's press conference, they didn't identify a single comment relied upon in the draft order as being questionable".

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".

Under Pai's proposal, the Obama-era rules would be reversed and ISPs would only have to disclose blocking or throttling. "This is an attempt by people who want to keep the Obama Administration's heavy-handed Internet regulations to delay the vote because they realize that their effort to defeat the plan to restore internet freedom has stalled".

Separately Monday, more than two dozen Democratic senators also wrote to the FCC calling for the December 14 vote to be delayed until a review of the submissions take place.

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