After the Republican-led Federal Communications Communication proposed scrapping its own 2015 net neutrality regulations, millions of fabricated comments were posted on the FCC web site, mostly supporting the repeal. As AVN.com has reported, it was later revealed—by FCC Chair Ajit Pai himself—that about 500,000 of those fake comments originated in Russia.
Last month, a BuzzFeed investigation revealed that about 1.5 million more phony comments were generated by a single Republican political consultant, Shane Cory, who is also an activist with the right-wing group Project Veritas.
Now, according to an internal FCC email leaked to the tech news site Gizmodo, the FCC appears to be acknowledging that deep flaws in the system that helped support net neutrality repeal.
In the email, an FCC official invites certain individuals “who comment frequently at the FCC” to attend discussions on how to “replace our Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) and we need your help on how to better serve the public.”
One of the topics to be discussed in the discussions, according to the email, is the issue of “authentication.” In fact, thousands of the bogus comments were posted using actual email addresses used by real Americans—without the knowledge of those Americans. Among those whose identities were stolen to post fake comments were two United States senators.
Gizmodo reported that two sources within the FCC confirmed that the leaked email was authentic. The site also said that Pai did not respond to a request for comment about the email.
But FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel did comment on the proposed revamp of the comment system.
“It’s been two years since the FCC’s comment system was flooded with fraud,” Rosenworcel told Gizmodo. “Our record included millions of stolen identities, filings from Russian email addresses, and all manner of fake stuff.”
But she also said the problems ran deeper than technical flaws in the comment system.
“This is how the public tells Washington what it thinks of its major policy proposals. But for too long the FCC has disregarded the mess it made with the net neutrality proceeding,” Rosenworcel said. “The agency needs to investigate exactly what happened and identify who caused this fraud so that it never happens again.”
Photo By U.S. Department of Agriculture / Wikimedia Commons Public Domain
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