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How to check if your identity was stolen to help kill net neutrality

Published Dec 15th, 2017 4:32PM EST
FCC Net Neutrality
Image: Jacquelyn Martin/AP/REX/Shutterstock

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Yesterday, in a stunning (but inevitable) defeat for proponents of the open internet, the FCC voted 3-2 to repeal the Obama-era net neutrality rules that stopped internet providers from favoring certain apps and services while slowing down or even blocking others. This isn’t the end, as multiple state attorneys general announced that they would sue the FCC to restore the regulations shortly after the vote, but the wheels are officially in motion.

But whether you support net neutrality, oppose it or are completely indifferent, there’s a chance that you unknowingly contributed to its demise. Weeks before the vote, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman published an open letter to the FCC in which he claimed that the FCC’s comment process had been “corrupted,” and that hundreds of thousands of US citizens may have had their names used in comments that they didn’t submit themselves.

Unfortunately, the FCC refused to cooperate with the New York Attorney General’s Office, and so nothing was done about the corrupted process before the commissioners cast their votes. But as we mentioned above, the battle is far from over, and one way that you can help fight to restore net neutrality is by taking advantage of a search tool on the NY AG’s website that will tell you whether or not your identity was stolen in support of the FCC.

In order to find out if your name appeared in any comments submitted to the FCC, head to this link and enter your full name in the box near the bottom of the page. Click “Search for Fake Comments” and a new window will open, taking you to the FCC’s website. If your name appears in any comments, they will appear here.

If you do find your name among the list, it will likely appear with the following comment attached:

Before leaving office, the Obama Administration rammed through a massive scheme that gave the federal government broad regulatory control over the internet. That misguided policy decision is threatening innovation and hurting broadband investment in one of the largest and most important sectors of the U.S. economy. I support the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to roll back Title II and allow for free market principles to guide our digital economy.

This same comment appears hundreds of thousands of times on the FCC’s website, and there’s no telling how many of them were submitted by spambots. The good news is that if you do find a fake comment submitted under your name, you can make a submission on the NY AG’s website to help with their investigation.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.