NY attorney general: 2M net neutrality comments were fake

A day before the vote to take down the 2015 rules, Eric Schneiderman reports on misused identities in comments to the FCC.

Michelle Meyers
Michelle Meyers wrote and edited CNET News stories from 2005 to 2020 and is now a contributor to CNET.
Michelle Meyers
2 min read
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Where "fake comments" originated, according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office. 

New York Attorney General's Office/Screenshot by CNET

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's staffers have likely been burning the midnight oil.

Just a day before the FCC's scheduled vote to reverse net neutrality rules, Schneiderman reported that as many as 2 million comments submitted to the agency on the topic misused identities of real Americans. He says he found more than 100,000 "fake comments" per state from New York, Florida, Texas and California.

Schneiderman is just one of many of vocal opponents to the proposed rollback of the 2015 rules. The plan -- spearheaded by FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who was elevated to that job by President Donald Trump earlier this year -- would roll back the 2015 protections, which prohibited broadband providers from blocking or slowing traffic. The rules also banned them from charging companies like Netflix to reach their customers faster than their competitors.

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Schneiderman opened his investigation last month on behalf of New Yorkers after learning that fake public comments came in posing as "hundreds and thousands" of Americans.

The FCC rejected requests from Schneiderman and 28 senators to delay the vote until after the fake comments could be investigated. On Wednesday, he reiterated concern in light of his office's new findings.

"As we've told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda," he said in a statement. "The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened."

The FCC didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on Schniederman's latest findings and request.

Schneiderman's office set up a web page with a tool for checking if an identity was misused. He listed some of the responses, including the following:

  • "This person is my aunt. She never filed this. She is an elderly woman; someone is using her identification." – Bronx, NY
  • "This is a 13 year old child – she did not post this comment, nor did anyone else in her household." – Rochester, NY
  • "This comment was made on July 11th, 2017. This is a fake comment... I am her son, and can confirm it was not her. [She] died of cancer on June 8th, 2017." – Albany, NY

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