Net Neutrality Group Cites More 'Fake' FCC Comments

Fight for the Future sees dead people, at least it says a few have somehow filed anti-Title II comments to the FCC according to reports from the deceased's friends. 

The group has also found another dozen or so people—twice the original number—who say anti-Title II comments were filed in the FCC docket under their names that they did not submit. In addition, the group said it has been hearing from people saying that a comment was filed under the name and address of a deceased family member. 

The group claims that over 450,000 fake comments have been submitted and that the FCC "is still refusing to remove fake comments, even when victims call the FCC directly and demand that their name and personal information be removed from a public docket endorsing political messages they don’t agree with." 

It also said it had received three reports from friends of recently deceased individuals whose names were on comments, saying the comments would have had to be posted posthumously.

An FCC spokesperson responded to the charge the FCC was refusing to weed out the fake submissions by citing the chairman's general comments at the most recent public meeting press conference, when he said: 

"I encourage broad participation in this rulemaking as in any FCC rulemaking, and what matters most are the quality of the comments, not the quantity.  We will make our decision based on the facts that are in the record and on the relevant law that is presented—and obviously fake comments such as the ones submitted last week by the Flash, Batman, Wonder Woman, Aquaman and Superman are not going to dramatically impact our deliberations on this issue.

"This is an issue that's impacted me personally as hundreds of comments I've seen have been submitted under my own name. Now there's obviously a tension between having open process where it's easy to comment and preventing questionable comments from being filed, and generally speaking, this agency has erred on the side of openness, we want to encourage people to participate in as easy and accessible a way as possible.

"Of course this is not new: fake comments were filed in the 2014-15 proceeding under names like Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, and Stalin, just to name a few. This time around I think the bottom line is I urge everyone who's interested in this issue to participate in the process in an honest and forthright way, and that is, I think, the best way to make sure your voice is heard."

There are currently north of 2.8 million comments in the Restoring Internet Freedom docket, which is what the FCC is labeling Pai's proposal to roll back Title II classification of ISPs and the "general conduct standard" and rethink the prohibitions on blocking, throttling and paid prioritization and other elements of the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.