Net Neutrality vote must wait until conclusion of comment investigation, Schneiderman says

Gladys Abbott
December 5, 2017

The FCC received nearly 23 million comments since last spring, when Pai first made it clear he would review the FCC's framework for its net neutrality rules, Variety reported.

Although Schneiderman said he has received more than 3,200 complaints, including 350 in NY, from those who say comments were made in their or a relative's name without their consent, the FCC is refusing to provide any records or data to help with the investigation. Maggie Hassan, D-New York. His office suspects that as many as a million of those comments are linked to stolen identities, including a 13 year old who never submitted a comment, a recently deceased woman and the office of the Attorney General's own assistant press secretary. But Schneiderman said that they approached Pai's staff nine times to obtain records, yet it was only on Monday morning that the FCC's office of inspector general offered to assist. The Pew Research Center found that 57% of comments submitted to the FCC regarding the upcoming net neutrality vote used temporary or duplicate email addresses.

The FCC's plan to roll back Title II Net Neutrality regulations has been the subject of dire controversy and heated debate lately.

"For months", said Schneiderman, "we've been pleading with the FCC to help us with our investigation so we can get to the bottom of what happened and determine who is responsible".

The agency has also said it "lacks the resources" to investigate every one of the comment records.

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His office has set up a webpage where people can search the FCC comment database and report fake submissions. By Monday, Schneiderman said, they had received more than 3,000 responses - including, he said, from a man who said his deceased mother's name had been used.

The FCC, composed of three Republicans and two Democrats, is widely expected to kill net neutrality in favor of what Pai and the Republicans call "light-touch regulation". And the son of a woman from Albany contacted Schneiderman's office, he said, to report that she had passed away a month before the comment was submitted. An updated analysis by the Attorney General's office found that approximately one million of these comments may have misused the real names and addresses of Americans - including tens of thousands of New Yorkers.

The Federal Communications Commission could vote this week to roll back net neutrality rules. In vast swaths of the country, internet service is only available from a single provider; is it micromanaging to simply ensure that a provider can't choose which web content users can and cannot access?

The burdensome regulations in question, of course, are those preventing your internet service provider from charging you extra to access certain websites and services, preventing your internet service provider from throttling speeds on their competitor's sites.

Twenty-eight USA senators, including Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also sent a letter to Pai Monday urging him to postpone the vote in light of the investigation.

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