Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

protest in favor of net neutrality

A man holds up a sign supporting internet rights at a rally in San Francisco, California. (Photo: Credo Action/Flickr/cc)

FCC Under Fire for Ignoring 'Massive Scheme to Corrupt' Net Neutrality Comment Process

Amid widespread outrage over the agency's proposed internet rule changes, NY Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's says chairman has refused to cooperate with probe into fake posts

Jessica Corbett

In an open letter to Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman slammed the agency for ignoring "a massive scheme to corrupt" the mandatory public comment process for Pai's plan to dismantle net neutrality protections with new rules officially unveiled on Tuesday.

"The FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed."
—Eric Schneiderman, New York Attorney General

While open internet advocates have for months campaigned against Pai's plan to turn over the web to corporate control, which often included form letters for the public comment process, Schneiderman launched an investigation after submissions started appearing from supposed supporters of the plan with personal information of people who said they had not submitted any comments.

"For six months my office has been investigating who perpetrated a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process through the misuse of enormous numbers of real New Yorkers' and other Americans' identities," Schneiderman writes on Medium. "Such conduct likely violates state law — yet the FCC has refused multiple requests for crucial evidence in its sole possession that is vital to permit that law enforcement investigation to proceed."

Schneiderman continues:

My office analyzed the fake comments and found that tens of thousands of New Yorkers may have had their identities misused in this way. (Indeed, analysis showed that, in all, hundreds of thousands of Americans likely were victimized in the same way, including tens of thousands per state in California, Georgia, Missouri, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, and possibly others.)....

This investigation isn't about the substantive issues concerning net neutrality. For my part, I have long publicly advocated for strong net neutrality rules under the Title II of the Communications Act, and studies show that the overwhelming majority of Americans who took the time to write public comments to the FCC about the issue feel the same way while a very small minority favor repeal.

But this isn't about that. It's about the right to control one's own identity and prevent the corruption of a process designed to solicit the opinion of real people and institutions. Misuse of identity online by the hundreds of thousands should concern everyone — for and against net neutrality, New Yorker or Texan, Democrat or Republican.

Urging the FCC to reconsider its decision to refuse to assist with his investigation, Schneiderman concludes, "If law enforcement can't investigate and (where appropriate) prosecute when it happens on this scale, the door is open for it to happen again and again."

While defenders of the internet are mobilizing to stop the FCC changes from going through, the vote is now scheduled for December 14.

On Wednesday, a fresh wave of calls for reconsidering the plan (pdf) had activists and rights groups urging Americans to contact their congressional representatives, while lawmakers reiterated their support for protecting net neutrality:


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Congress Must Act': Bernie Sanders Demands End of Filibuster to Codify Abortion Rights

"We must pass legislation that codifies Roe v. Wade as the law of the land in this country. And if there aren't 60 votes to do it, and there are not, we must reform the filibuster to pass it with 50 votes."

Jon Queally ·


Human Rights Defenders Warn Biden Border Policy 'Quickly Transforming Into Trump 2.0'

Like his predecessor, President Joe Biden now being accused of "using racist, xenophobic tropes about immigrants to weaponize Covid-19 against migrants and asylum-seekers."

Jon Queally ·


'Bombshell': Israeli Spyware Used to Hack iPhones of US State Department Officials

Calling the Israel-based spyware maker NSO Group an "in-plain-sight national security threat," one expert warned that "a multi-agency investigation is immediately needed."

Jessica Corbett ·


US Progressive Caucus Hails Honduran Election as Chance for 'New Chapter' in Relations

"We encourage the Biden administration to use this opportunity to make a clean break with previous presidential administrations, which worked to ensure that the 2009 coup d'état succeeded."

Brett Wilkins ·


'The Facts of This Case Are So Egregious': Parents of Michigan School Shooter Charged in Killings

"There were a lot of things that could have been so simple to prevent," the Oakland County prosecutor said of the mother and father now being sought by law enforcement.

Kenny Stancil ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo