FCC faces legal loss for IP address logs during net neutrality repeal


In the battle for net neutrality, the Federal Communications Commission may have cheated. A probe into the IP address logs in its 2017 repeal of rules open potential fraudulent comments.

In 2017, FCC chairman Ajit Pai pushed for the public to comment on the value of net neutrality. As it ultimately killed many neutrality regulations, some dissenting opinions favored the potential FCC decision. A can of worms, however, is now out in the open.

A few of the people who commented on repealing the regulations were impersonations. These impersonations are so blatant that there are dead people within its ranks.

Millions in anti-neutrality comments potentially fake

In Spring 2017, the equivalent of a virtual war ravaged the internet. Many websites called to arms for people to comment on the FCC website. Investigative reports, however, show that much of the names in favor of FCC’s plans were literal ghosts.

Of the 22 million reply record the FCC gathered, as many as two million are fake. A vast majority of these two million replies were pushing for the repeal.

With the history of potential shady propaganda within the Trump administration, American justice went on a discovery quest.

The New York AG open and investigation, and the results are staggering. The office of the NY Attorney General estimates “as many as 9.6 million comments may have used stolen identities.”

Even with the potential fraudulent responses, the FCC opted to push the repeal. Requests flowed through the FCC, asking for server logs of where the comments came. Now, a judge ordered the commission to give the logs to the reporters who asked for them.

FCC neutrality repeal timeline explained

Much of the problems about net neutrality stem from the FCC proposal. Titled “Restoring Internet Freedom”, it rolled-back Obama-era protections. These prevented ISPs from unscrupulous behaviors, including “internet fast lanes”.

The so-called “fast lanes” could, in theory, throttle service speeds given to websites. This throttling will push customers to get better plans or push customers into their services.

At the time, FCC tried to justify the repeal to remove rules that “stifled innovation”. The entirety of the internet started a public upheaval during the commenting period. The people failed.

Now, reporters from the New York Times sued the FCC under the Freedom of Information Act for its continued denial of the IP address logs. District Judge Lorna Schofield handed the reporters the legal victory.

The judge wrote: “If genuine public comment is drowned out by a fraudulent facsimile, then the notice-and-comment process has failed.”

FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel celebrated the decision with a tweet. Rosenworcel is an advocate of net neutrality and a long time critic of the FCC’s actions.

Featured image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Flickr. Some rights reserved.

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