NLPC: Title II Docket Includes Tons of Foreign Filings

According to political and policy lobbying group the National Legal and Policy Center, almost a quarter million pro-net neutrality comments in the FCC's Restoring Internet Freedom docket have come from outside the U.S., including from Russia.

According to the self-described government watchdog group, which said it had conducted a forensic analysis of comments filed between May 24 and May 27, 236,999 comments were sent from domains in France (92,161), Germany (84,618) and Russia (60,220).

NLPC says exact language was submitted "thousands of times" using "fake email addresses, fake international physical addresses, and likely fake names." 

"As we noted last week with the discovery of hundreds of thousands of fake comments in the docket, the full extent of compromised pro-net neutrality comments is not known," said National Legal and Policy Center president Peter Flaherty. "But the gaming of the FCC's comment system appears to be massive and now encompassing overseas bot campaigns utilizing fake foreign physical and email addresses to submit comments," he said.

As with that analysis last week, NLPC says it plans to submit the data to an outside expert for more analysis.

In the meantime it called on the FCC to investigate the foreign filings to make sure they had no influence on its decision.

Countering pushback from Title II fans who have said net-neutrality foes are flooding the Title II docket with fake comments, NLPC said last week it had found evidence of "massive deception" among the pro-Title II contingent and its own flood of questionable input.

FCC chair Ajit Pai has signaled bogus comments are the price of an open process. 

"[T]here's obviously a tension between having an 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," the chairman said following the May FCC public meeting.

There are currently just under 5 million comments posted in the Restoring Internet Freedom docket.

(Photo via Frankieleon's FlickrImage taken on Feb. 14, 2017 and used per Creative Commons 2.0 license. The photo was cropped to fit 9x16 aspect ratio.)

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.