Net neutrality: ‘Dead people’ signing FCC consultation

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A campaign group has complained to the US Federal Communications Commission over its refusal to erase fake comments from a consultation on net neutrality.

Fight for the Future’s complaint is signed by 14 people who say their details were used without permission to file anti-net neutrality views.

The campaign group says that some of the comments were posted using the names and details of dead people.

The FCC has voted two-to-one to reverse net neutrality laws enacted in 2015.

The vote was the first stage in the process of repealing the legislation designed to force internet service providers to treat all data traffic as equal.

Americans now have until the middle of August to comment on the proposals.

‘Questionable comments’

Almost 2.8 million comments have been filed on the FCC’s plans since the consultation opened at the end of April.

Last week it was reported that hundreds of thousands of comments supporting the proposals had been posted by bots.

After the FCC vote on 18 May, chairman Ajit Pai told reporters there was “a tension between having an open process where it’s easy to comment and preventing questionable comments from being filed”, but that the regulator “erred on the side of openness”.

But Fight for the Future claims that many of the suspected spam comments have been posted using genuine details that have been stolen.

Media captionNet neutrality: What does it mean?

In their letter to the FCC, the group has called for an investigation into the fake comments, and for the regulator to notify all those whose details have been used to post them.

“Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, publicly exposed our private information without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign on to,” the letter reads.

“It cannot be the case that the FCC moves forward on such a major public debate without properly investigating this known attack.”

‘More names’

Fight for the Future says it has heard from “hundreds” of people who have found comments posted in their names, in favour of revoking net neutrality.

The group’s campaign director, Evan Greer, told Motherboard it would add more names to the letter as it verified their claims.

“This letter was something we put together quickly with people who were furious that their personal information had been used and wanted to do something immediately.”

The FCC has not yet responded to a BBC request for comment.

Earlier this month, the FCC said it had been targeted by a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack that led to downtime for the comments system.

This followed a television appearance by comedian John Oliver in which he urged people to post comments against the proposals on the FCC’s website.