back to article One year late, US senators act on fake net neutrality comments that drowned the FCC

Two US senators say they were among those whose identities were forged to file bogus comments on the FCC's net neutrality process. Senators Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Jeff Merkley (D-OR) are calling on Ajit Pai, chairman of the US broadband regulator, to look into how they and others were credited with posting opinions and views to …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    "... and the need to identify and address fraudulent behavior in the rulemaking process."

    Anybody else hear the threat addressed to Pai?

  2. Andy Mac

    To be fair, whoever did this needn’t have bothered. Pai doesn’t exactly strike me as someone who would care even if all the comments were in favour of neutrality.

    1. Alphebatical

      Pai was already under investigation for his sweetheart dealings with Sinclair. Without a flood of supportive comments, he'd probably be in the clink by now.

  3. Herby


    Will they get serious about spam email. They tried once, but it really had no effect. Who knows, if "we" post more things in a congressman's name it might start something.

    But I still have doubts. *SIGH*

  4. ratfox

    Pai is not going to react to such a polite letter. The only thing he might listen to is a cut to the FCC budget... And that might not even be enough, considering he's probably looking to his future cushy sinecure more than his current job.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Pai is not going to react to such a polite letter. The only thing he might listen to is a cut to the FCC budget.

      The FCC is a regulatory agency. Trumpism and republicans dictate no regulations on businesses (apart from preventing abortions or contraception and discouraging renewable energy), and are doing so in part by eliminating "big government" by shrinking the staff and budget of said government.

  5. Mark 85

    More eyewash....

    The posturing and even the questions remind me of the questions Zuck faced. Nothing of significance but everyone gets some face time in the news.

  6. Donn Bly

    They want to implement CAPTCHA? On an API?

    CAPTCHA is an obsolete, broken technology. The solve rate of bots exceeds the solve rate of humans. If I have CAPTCHA on a form and the it passes, it is more likely to be a bot than a human.

    An API is designed to be used by automated processes, and CAPTCHA defeats that purpose. There are ways to secure API's but CAPTCHA isn't one of them.

    This is why politicians should stay out of the details on technology. They should define the objective and establish accountability, but let real technicians decide the details. They don't seem to have a problem defining objectives, but have a real problem on the accountability aspects.

    1. ds6 Silver badge

      Not to decry that politicians are equivalent in smarts to a box of tacks, but the API endpoint could merely set up a session ID, send a URL the user should visit to solve a challenge, and then put through the comment when the user provides the session ID and the challenge completion token.

      Since the system was (allegedly) intended for use by humans, this should have no effect on those humans but should be able to stop at least the dumb bots.

  7. Just Enough

    Why bother?

    I think most people are mystified as to why anyone is bothering wilth fraud on the comments. It's not as if Ajit Pai had the slightest intention of paying any attention to what they said. It was a flimsy attempt at pretending to consult the public, doomed to be abused and ignored from the start.

    1. Rich 11

      Re: Why bother?

      Yes, it was there only to provide justification for Pai's decision. It's like the dictators who run elections every five years and are humbly grateful to the downtrodden peoplewise and conscientious electorate when they get 99.7% of the vote.

      You must be so very proud, America, that your swamp has been drained and you have been made great again.

  8. Robert Helpmann??


    It's not a real problem until a Congressman is affected.

    As telling as I think this observation is, it is actually how most people think. Unfortunately, we seem to have the government we deserve.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Represent!

      It's not a real problem until a Congressman is affected.

      Something something air travel a few years ago - congress ignored the issue until they couldn't get flights home from DC. Anyone remember that?

  9. Eduard Coli

    Fits his agenda

    American Pai outsourced a flood campaign.

  10. Someone Else Silver badge

    Congresscritters: I'm shocked, shocked to find that our names were used fraudulently in this net neutrality business. What are you going to do about it?

    Eejit Pie: Er...well, nothing.

    Congresscritters: Oh, well...just don't let it happen again!

    Eejit Pie: Sure....

    Congresscritters: OK. Well, that's settled, then. I need a Scotch!

  11. gnarlymarley

    Ultimately, about 22 million messages were submitted, and while three in five were in favor of net neutrality, once duplicates and those with garbage email addresses were tossed out, the overall sentiment was against net neutrality.

    I am curious how they determined which addresses were faked. I never did see any emails to my address or the comment I submitted, nor were they any attempts to contact me to determine is my address was real. My suspicion is that someone picked the comments they liked for real addresses and the comments they didn't like for fake ones.

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