The FCC plans to kill the Obama-era net neutrality rules, but until it does so, it’s willing to listen to your voice on the matter. And the FCC has already received hundreds of thousands of comments, including more than 128,000 similar remarks from a bot that opposes net neutrality. We now know more details about the attack.
John Oliver a few days ago urged internet users to tell the FCC how they feel about net neutrality, following a similar campaign from a few years ago. The results were immediate, Ars Technica, says, with more than 700,000 comments having been posted since Sunday’s Last Week Tonight.
As expected, there’s a garden variety of opinions in there, including pro and against net neutrality stances, but also violent, hateful, and ironic comments.
What’s disturbing, however, is that a bot is impersonating people to post the same fake anti-net neutrality comment:
The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation. I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years.
The bot uses the name addresses of real people, so ZDNet decided to inquire whether some of these people actually posted them or not. Unsurprisingly, some of the people contacted by the tech site said they did not author any comments on the FCC. The Commission, meanwhile, is yet to comment on the matter.
As Ars points out, the FCC did comment on some of the racist comments directed to Chairman Ajit Pai. Pai Chief of Staff Matthew Berry said on Twitter he was “very sad to see racist, hate-filled attacks against Chairman Pai being submitted to the FCC.”
In the meantime, Gizmodo discovered the origin of the spam campaign. It’s coming from the Center for Individual Freedom, which posted the comment on its site, urging people to oppose Obama’s net neutrality rules.
The organization, however, said that it’s not submitting the comments under the names of people without their knowledge:
The answer to your question is absolutely no, CFIF is not filing comments under the names of individuals without their knowledge.
CFIF has launched a digital media effort, which leads people to the exact comment text before they sign, confirm and submit. It’s as simple and straightforward as we can make it. See attached. CFIF is also sending email to its activists and others.
CFIF may have received funding from the internet provider lobby group the Internet & Television Association, there’s no proof the organization is manning the bot that currently spams the FCC.
Earlier, FCC said it was targeted by a DDoS attack which made its site unavailable for a while.