Tuesday, December 5, 2017

FCC Rejects Call For Net Neutrality Vote Delay

Eric Schneiderman, Jessica Rosenworcel
New York’s attorney general urged the Federal Communications Commission to delay a vote rolling back net neutrality rules because of the large number of fake comments submitted to the agency on the issue.

According to Reuters, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been investigating allegations that more than half of the 21.7 million public comments submitted to the FCC about net neutrality used temporary or duplicate email addresses and appeared to include false or misleading information.

Schneiderman said the FCC agreed on Monday to assist in the probe. “We’re going to hold them to that – and, in the meantime, it’s vital that the FCC delay the vote until we know what happened,” said Schneiderman.

The 2015 rules changed the designation of internet service providers, or ISPs, usually big cable and telephone companies, so they were banned from blocking or throttling (slowing) legal content or from seeking payments to speed delivery of certain content, called “paid prioritization.”

FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, who opposes the net neutrality rollback, agreed that the vote should be delayed.

“The integrity of the public record matters. The FCC needs to get to the bottom of this mess. No vote should take place until a responsible investigation is complete,” she said.

However, USAToday is reporting the FCC said it will stick to its Dec. 14 plan to repeal the net neutrality rules that prevent Internet Service Providers from throttling or blocking content online, and prohibit ISPs from prioritizing some content over others, possibly for payment.

The FCC, led by Republican Ajit Pai, say the rules were heavy-handed and stymied investment in broadband, a view supported by big telecom and Internet providers, such as Comcast and AT&T. The nation's largest web companies, such as Google and Facebook, and digital rights advocates, say repealing the regulations will make it easier for Internet providers to favor content, including from their own channels.

Spurred by HBO's John Oliver, who rallied his viewers to support existing regulations,  a tsunami of comments flooded the FCC website during the open comment period, exceeding 23 million. But groups on both sides started to notice many were fakes.

Schneiderman pointed to a study paid for by an industry group that represents Internet service providers called Broadband for America, which he says has acknowledged that as many as eight million comments submitted to the FCC may have been fake.

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