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Investigation Demanded Over Fake FCC Comments Submitted By Dead People (bbc.com) 140

An anonymous reader writes: Fight for the Future has found another issue with the fake comments submitted to the FCC opposing net neutrality. "The campaign group says that some of the comments were posted using the names and details of dead people," according to the BBC. The exact same comment was also submitted more than 7,000 times using addresses in Colorado, where a reporter discovered that contacting the people at those addresses drew reactions which included "I have never seen this before in my life" and "No, I did not post this comment. In fact, I disagree with this comment." Fight for the Future also knocked on doors in Tampa, Florida, where the few people who answered "were shocked to hear that their name and address were publicly listed alongside a political message they did not necessarily understand or agree with." An alleged commenter in Montana told a reporter she didn't even know what net neutrality was.

14 people have already signed Fight for the Future's official complaint to the FCC, which calls for notification of all people affected, an investigation, and the immediate removal of all fake comments from the public docket. "Based on numerous media reports, nearly half a million Americans may have been impacted by whoever impersonated us," states the letter, "in a dishonest and deceitful campaign to manufacture false support for your plan to repeal net neutrality protections."

Fight for the Future says they've already verified "dozens" of instance of real people discovering a fake comment was submitted in their name -- and that in addition, more than 2,400 people have already used their site to contact their state Attorneys General demanding an investigation. They note the FCC has taken no steps to remove the fake comments from its docket, "risking the safety and privacy of potentially hundreds of thousands of people," while a campaign director at Fight for the Future added, "For the FCC's process to have any legitimacy, they simply cannot move forward until an investigation has been conducted."
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Investigation Demanded Over Fake FCC Comments Submitted By Dead People

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  • Weird behavior (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @09:59AM (#54497503)

    I don't know what it is about network neutrality but every single time there is anything about it, it brings out the slashdot anon trolls en masse.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      It may be the same dead people who commented to the FCC.

      • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @02:46PM (#54498711)
        Do you want to imply that vitaly challenged people should not be allowed to make themselves heard?

        Dead people are already being discriminated against already on a massive scale. For example they aren't even legally allowed to own property anymore, but must work through internediaries like foundations, trust funds, banks, and lawyers. And now you want to rob them of their voice too?

        That's crass vitalism, that is!

        This is something we from the grassroots action group "Dead does not mean buried !" take a stand against !

        Beside which, we prefer the term "differently alive", thank you very much.

        • You kid, but I helped collect signatures to get a ballot initiative qualified for a State election. The general rule of thumb is that you need to collect at least 2x as many signatures as is required to qualify because when the State verifies the signatures, half of them are going to be fake, duplicate, or unverifiable. 3x if you want to be assured of qualifying.

          And these are signatures collected via face-to-face interactions. Is anyone really surprised that comments submitted essentially anonymously
        • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

          Do you want to imply that vitaly challenged people should not be allowed to make themselves heard?

          Well, if the dead want a voice in government, they need to do what everyone else does - vote!

          And don't tell me they can't do that, because there are plenty of dead people who vote already. Either political party will give you lists of those dead people who voted in the last election.

        • by Megol ( 3135005 )

          I'm all for the silent majority making their voices heard. Could make it harder for politicians to make stupid claims of support...

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      Because any comment that questions the Net Neutrality dogma gets modded down to -1.

      • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

        by Gravis Zero ( 934156 )

        The problem with that theory is that they aren't actual comments on the subject matter but rather troll posts. If you can make a legitimate argument for why an ISP should be allowed to make google.com slower than bing.com then please present it.

        • by Kohath ( 38547 )

          And get modded down to -1? Why bother?

          I'd say we should have as few rules as practical, and that we shouldn't enact real rules and police them with real internet police because of some imaginary scenarios involving google.com.

          Real problems can be addressed with fewer, more narrowly focused rules that respect all the interested parties, most especially the public. But the Net Neutrality side is too dogmatic, refusing to acknowledge anyone else's interests.

          Declaring anyone who doesn't agree with you a "trol

          • Re:Weird behavior (Score:4, Interesting)

            by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @04:40PM (#54499105)

            I'd say we should have as few rules as practical

            I agree. This is a very simplistic rule that is quite practical.

            we shouldn't enact real rules and police them with real internet police because of some imaginary scenarios involving google.com.

            Except it's a very real scenario: After Netflix pays Comcast, speeds improve 65% [arstechnica.com]

            But the Net Neutrality side is too dogmatic, refusing to acknowledge anyone else's interests.

            Whose interests does it refuse to acknowledge? I don't understand how it could be for anything but extorting sites to fork over cash like comcast did to netflix.

            Declaring anyone who doesn't agree with you a "troll" because "what about my imaginary google.com scenario" isn't really a way to have a discussion.

            That's not what I'm doing at all. If you read the comments above my original, none of them are actually about net neutrality but rather political troll posts.

            • by Kohath ( 38547 )

              This is a very simplistic rule that is quite practical.

              It's a rule that was made up to solve a problem that was imagined. We should have rules that are designed for real problems. But we can only consider one rule, because of the Net Neutrality dogma.

              Except it's a very real scenario: After Netflix pays Comcast, speeds improve 65% [arstechnica.com]

              If you wanted to talk about a real case, then why did you make up the imaginary bing.com, google.com scenario?

              How about a rule that only applies providers like Comcast in monopoly or near monopoly situations? And everyone else in non-monopoly situations is free of such rules. You could even make it considerably

              • How about a rule that only applies providers like Comcast in monopoly or near monopoly situations? And everyone else in non-monopoly situations is free of such rules.

                What would be the benefit of limiting the rule in such a manner and who would it benefit?

                • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                  Who benefits by keeping the NSA from mandating back doors in all encryption schemes? Who benefits from VPNs being legal? Who benefits from giving accused criminals the presumption of innocence? Who benefits from any limitation on government power or authority?

                  Free people benefit.

                  Rules that would encourage and reward competitive, non-monopoly Internet environments specifically benefit people who want more choices of ISPs. And anyone who wants faster Internet benefits when providers decide to invest and e

                  • Free people benefit.

                    How would they benefit more than if net neutrality is in effect?

                    Rules that would encourage and reward competitive, non-monopoly Internet environments specifically benefit people who want more choices of ISPs.

                    How does this reduce the competitiveness of the market?

                    And anyone who wants faster Internet benefits when providers decide to invest and expand rather than deciding the ROI is too small to be worth the regulatory risks.

                    There literally is no regulatory risk involved in net neutrality. The only thing it does is prevent connections from being slowed down between the customer and the ISP based on the origin/destination.

                    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                      There literally is no regulatory risk involved in net neutrality.

                      That's the problem with making policy based on storytelling. In the story, Net Neutrality is all good, with no bad things. There's a villain, the evil Comcast, trying to slow down google.com (for reasons the storyteller never really explains). And the only ones who can save the day are the heroic regulators, one dimensional characters of pure good, dedicating their life to righteousness and protecting the holy google.com packets. The heroes win, nothing ever goes wrong (in the story), and they all live h

                    • Reality has regulators who expand their mission once they start.

                      Sure sounds like the slippery slope fallacy to me.

                      Real networks have oversubscription problems and congestion and real network operators don't think they should have to talk to the Internet police every time someone complains. A wireless operator doesn't think phone calls should lose out to people streaming Netflix at 4K, and wants to prioritize voice packets without asking Washington DC for permission. An operator who never treated any packets different from any others doesn't think he owes regulators even a minute of his time. A company VP is calculating ROI and he doesn't use "they all lived happily ever after" in his projections.

                      Literally nothing you have mentioned is related to net neutrality. You can still have a congested networks and prioritize based on the type of traffic. In fact, the only thing you cannot do is prioritize based on the origin/destination. It's sounding more and more like you don't actually understand what net neutrality is.

                    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                      It's sounding more and more like you don't actually understand what net neutrality is.

                      Ok, please link the official government Net Neutrality rules.

                    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                      You can't complain about one speculation, then utilize your own.

                      Why not? Everyone else does.

                    • there's little point in linking the legal text but here's the plain text explaination: https://www.fcc.gov/general/op... [fcc.gov]

                      Bright Line Rules:

                      * No Blocking: broadband providers may not block access to legal content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
                      * No Throttling: broadband providers may not impair or degrade lawful Internet traffic on the basis of content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices.
                      * No Paid Prioritization: broadband providers may not favor some lawful Internet traffic over other lawful traffic in exchange for consideration of any kind—in other words, no "fast lanes." This rule also bans ISPs from prioritizing content and services of their affiliates.

                      Do note that the "no throttling" rule doesn't exclude the possibility of traffic prioritization.

                    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

                      Thanks. That's the PR version and even that seems to clearly disallow a wireless service prioritizing voice traffic over someone streaming Netflix at 4K.

                      There's also nothing mentioned about enforcement mechanisms.

                    • I suppose you do not understand much about traffic shaping because you can absolutely prioritize VoIP over video streams without violating net neutrality. It can be as simple as prioritize a port number. This isn't rocket science, bro.

          • Imaginary scenario? Comcast is throttling all encrypted connections today. Go fuck yourself.

            • by Kohath ( 38547 )

              Please show which provider is slowing down google.com packets to help bing.com. If I happened, it's not imaginary.

              Honestly, I'm for a lot harsher regulations on Comcast than Net Neutrality. Their monopoly needs to be ended. Net Neutrality doesn't address the real problem: monopoly providers and local governments that enable and support them.

        • If you can make a legitimate argument for why an ISP should be allowed to make google.com slower than bing.com then please present it.

          They haven't read Wealth of Nations by Adam Smith, so they don't understand that a Free Market arises when Government acts as a neutral third party and enforces trust and market access, creating a level playing field that anybody with the Capital can walk out onto and Compete.

          So asking them for a legitimate argument is not going to end well.

  • by Hasaf ( 3744357 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @10:02AM (#54497523)

    What you are looking at is an attempt to discredit Net Neutrality. These stories are attempting to create an impression that the only people who support net-neutrality are cranks and liars. They might be true, undoubtedly, there are cranks and liars who support net-neutrality, just as there are, undoubtedly, cranks and liars who oppose net-neutrality.

    Nearly any large issue has cranks and liars on both sides. However, there is clearly an attempt underway to associate support for net-neutrality with cranks and liars.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 27, 2017 @10:39AM (#54497723)

      It's a company called DCI Group, this is not their first or last fake consumer front groups.
      http://www.opensecrets.org/lobby/firmsum.php?id=D000021952
      Seems to be Verizon funding this one.

      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php/Talk:DCI_Group

      e.g. 2001, they create a fake group called "ATL", does this sound familiar?

      "I get letters from dead people
      In August 2001 the Los Angeles Times reported that ATL was behind a “carefully orchestrated nationwide campaign to create the impression of a surging grass-roots movement” behind Microsoft. “The campaign, orchestrated by a group partly funded by Microsoft, goes to great lengths so that the letters appear to be spontaneous expressions from ordinary citizens. Letters sent in the last month are printed on personalized stationery using different wording, color and typefaces—details that distinguish those efforts from common lobbying tactics that go on in politics every day.” Although FLS-DCI has not publicly claimed responsibility for generating the letters, they are consistent with the company’s own description of the word produced by its “letter desk” service: “all unique, but conveying your desired message.”

      "According to the Times, the campaign was discovered when Utah’s Attorney General at the time, Mark Shurtleff, received letters “purportedly written by at least two dead people . . . imploring him to go easy on Microsoft Corp. for its conduct as a monopoly. The pleas, along with about 400 others from Utah citizens,” included at least one from the nonexistent city of Tucson, Utah.

      • From what I am getting from all this is: THINK FOR YOURSELF. Don't follow trends, don't believe the hype of the media, if it does not follow common sense than most likely it isn't worth spending time on. If you believe be in it, stick to your beliefs. If you want companies to control the information that you get, then you deserve everything that comes to you.

        Do I want an internet that is neutral to content? Hell yes! Do I want it as a public utility that will get bogged down with a bureaucracy? Not o

        • by hey! ( 33014 )

          Do I want an internet that is neutral to content? Hell yes! Do I want it as a public utility that will get bogged down with a bureaucracy? Not only no, but HELL NO.

          Do I engage in false dichotomies? HELL YES.

    • by laughingskeptic ( 1004414 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @11:24AM (#54497901)
      The bot-driven fake submissions are in support of ENDING Net Neutrality. This was not a false-flag operation. These posts likely came from the DCI Group ( https://www.dcigroup.com/ [dcigroup.com] ) which was hired by the National Cable and Telecom Association via Broadband for America see: http://www.zdnet.com/article/a... [zdnet.com] and https://news.vice.com/article/... [vice.com] .
    • by nnull ( 1148259 )
      What you're looking at is an organized group that is being funded to change peoples opinions. These companies are now popping up all over the place and they don't even hide what they do anymore. Some of them are already becoming affordable for even peons to use. Soon I'm sure my competitors will try to use them against me and this will be the norm in dealing with anything in real life.

      Basically a pay for your own propaganda machine, they don't care who they hurt and they don't care who you support as lon
    • by h4x0t ( 1245872 )
      What are you talking about?
      This story is regarding fake comments that are posed against net neutrality.
      There is no argument against net neutrality other than private control and private money derived from public loss of freedom.


      I feel what I am witnessing from you is a campaign to discredit the support of net neutrality by obfuscation of the meaning of the term net neutrality(neutral pipes on the net).
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I find it impossible to believe such an upstanding businessman as Trump would allow false information to disrupt the glorious free-market enterprise that he's trying to sell the internet off to.

  • Pass a law (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Kohath ( 38547 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @10:12AM (#54497583)

    If public comments matter this much, that's a clear sign these rules shouldn't be made by a small unelected board. Rather they should be made by the public, by having elected representatives pass a law.

    • If public comments matter this much, that's a clear sign these rules shouldn't be made by a small unelected board. Rather they should be made by the public, by having elected representatives pass a law.

      They do, then punt enforcement and rule making to an agency.

      • Sometimes I think administrative law is the greatest threat to a free society; that is when you have lawmakers giving administrative agencies of unelected officials broad arbitrary control over an aspect of government with little to no accountability (Operation Fast & Furious anyone? IRS scandal? Etc...) and if an agency is called into question it takes a lot of pressure to get the DOJ, let alone Congress, to do anything meaningful. That's my two cents.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      If public comments matter this much, that's a clear sign these rules shouldn't be made by a small unelected board. Rather they should be made by the public, by having elected representatives pass a law.

      Don't hold your breath, the decision to repeal was made months ago by paid off republicans.

    • If public comments matter this much, that's a clear sign these rules shouldn't be made by a small unelected board. Rather they should be made by the public, by having elected representatives pass a law.

      Or better, "If we actually want the public to have more control over their laws, we should get to vote individually on every issue." While it's true, we could spend forever wishing for better representation. But, that doesn't discount that right here and now, we have this avenue for our voice, and it's getting marginalized by malicious actors in an obvious way. If we don't stand up and fight, but just sit around wishing the world were different, then we'll quickly lose the few rights that we have left.

      • by Kohath ( 38547 )

        Government "by the people" matters a lot more than whether Netflix has to write a check to Verizon.

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      These rules are made by elected representatives, just indirectly - the FCC exists because congress created it to do this, and congress can overrule the FCC on any issue it chooses.
    • by kenh ( 9056 )

      If public comments matter this much, that's a clear sign these rules shouldn't be made by a small unelected board. Rather they should be made by the public, by having elected representatives pass a law.

      Seriously? Because the public can be whipped up into a frothing mob over an esoteric thing like Title II Oversight of Internet Providers that means that we really need the guiding hand of people like Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee [thedailybeast.com], Rep. Hank Johnson [youtube.com] or Rep. Nancy Pelosi [youtube.com]? (Feel free to add you list of "out there" representatives from the Right)

  • by UziBeatle ( 695886 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @10:29AM (#54497663)

      THis is interesting coincidence::
    https://www.comcastroturf.com/ [comcastroturf.com]
    enter Butterfield as search term
    End up at
    https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/searc... [fcc.gov]?

    With results of 17 Butterfield surnames all reporting
    exact same text . All submitted their FCC filing
    on exact same date. Huh.

    I"m sure there is nothing to see here so safe
    to assume FCC will just accept them all as legit.

  • The below ones seem perfectly genuine and drive the point home with well-reasoned arguments:

    • Hey, Indian cocksucker, you don't belong here. Leave the country now. Do not fuck with my Internet connectivity. You're a real jagoff.
    • I support strong net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs. Also, Ajit Pai, you're one weird little man. You seem like the Jehovah's witness that even the other Jehovah's witnesses find off-putting. You seem like the guy no one wanted in the Frat, but your dad was a legacy. Also, this is just a hunch, but I bet you're pretty doughy with your shirt off. Not, like, FAT fat, but just fat enough to be gross. Also, you talk with the cadence of a 90s valley girl, it's really weird. And stop quoting the Big Lebowski; you're not a freshman film student, you're a fucking adult. Anyway, to reitereate, I support net neutrality backed by Title 2 oversight of ISPs, and over-sized novelty mugs are for guys with small dicks.
    • No one gives a fuck about your giant coffee mug, you arrogant pencil-dick. I want the internet to remain neutral, and support net neutrality backed by title 2 oversight of ISP's. Go fuck your whore mother like everyone else has. Just looked it up and Ajit Pai is married. Bless that woman's heart for being with him. Don't really know she allow's her body to fuck that guy. Really seems like a bad time. Please leave net neutrality alone and not block my shit. I like to see a specific types of dick and if that is slowed or blocked i'm just going to be really sad. I'm sure most of you have a liking to types of porn. Thanks
    • WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU CUNTS THINKING!!!!! HOW CAN YOU MAKE INTERNET FREEDOM ABSOLUTE! DO YOU KNOW WHO DOES CONTROL THE INTERNET? CHINA!!! FUCK YOU PAI, I HOPE RUSTY FORK GETS JAMMED DOWN YOUR THROAT

    Browse [fcc.gov] FCC [fcc.gov] for [fcc.gov] more [fcc.gov].

  • Don't know (Score:4, Insightful)

    by markdavis ( 642305 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @11:25AM (#54497913)

    >"An alleged commenter in Montana told a reporter she didn't even know what net neutrality was. "

    Actually, based on my dealings with "every day people" I estimate that perhaps as many as 98% of people either have no idea what net neutrality is or have highly inaccurate information about what it is. But this seems typical on any highly technical or abstract subject.

    • Re:Don't know (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ABEND ( 15913 ) on Saturday May 27, 2017 @11:57AM (#54498047)

      Let's call them Everyday Americans [wikileaks.org]. They have been conditioned to reject any programs with Orwellian names such as "Net Neutrality." "Net Neutrality" is very reminiscent of The Fairness Doctrine [wikipedia.org]. "The Fairness Doctrine" was re-visited in 2008 as a way to suppress talk radio shows (cf, minority media) such a "The Rush Limbaugh Show."

      • It's sad. When we all first heard about the despicable cash-grab telcos were planning in order to make us all pay more, everyone here hated the idea.

        A decade or so of lobbyists later and we're split along party lines over what to do about it.

        But in case everyone has forgotten, please remember that most people absolutely abhor the idea of ISPs charging protection fees to the internet at large to avoid having their sites hobbled.

    • Thankfully the telcos are educating the public, at least they do in Europe.

      1) Telco offers free music streaming on mobiles, knowing full well that this violates Net Neutrality
      2) Customer is happy
      3) Europe says "You can't do that"
      4) Customer is pissed, blames Net Neutrality and/or Europe
      5) Telco says "told you so" to the legislators.

      If you're one of the unhappy customers by the way, remember that companies like these only give out freebies if they have to, i.e. if there is any real competition. But
  • This comment on the previous thread applies to this one as well:

    Everyone -- note that this article is being spammed hard by "Anonymous Cowards" sprouting pro-Putin and pro-Trump talking points.

    And in effect anti-net-neutrality.

    Adjust your skepticism accordingly. They're rattled -- there's been a strong uptick in Putinbot activity in the last few days, which makes me wonder if pro-Western forces are getting closer to the truth on Kremlingate.

    In the absence of Slashdot waking up to themselves and getting rid of "Anonymous Coward", you'll have to wade through a lot of Putinbot spam in the meantime.

    • I normally would leave this alone, but this is so egregious I just can't help myself.

      First, we have a moderation system to handle this situation. A spam army of anonymous cowards doesn't garner many eyeballs around here, as AC starts with a disadvantage, and most people read at +1.

      But more to the point on this specific case: There's only roughly 60 total posts on this article (as I begin typing). If every single post was some Russian-paid advocate, it would barely rate "spammed hard". I realize this com

  • Has anyone bothered to do a check on a sample of pro-net neutrality comments to see if similar problems exist there, or are only anti-nn comments worth investigating?
    • Has anyone bothered to do a check on a sample of pro-net neutrality comments to see if similar problems exist there, or are only anti-nn comments worth investigating?

      I'd be interested too, but please post all the relevant information, like methods and percentages. Who cares if there were 1,000 fake comments, I want to know for both pro & con: # total comments, top 5 most common text, of each of those, the percentage given by date & time, percentage of validated comments - for & against

      Maybe shorthand would be: any pattern that has been deemed suspicious, check for that pattern on the other side and show which happened more frequently.

      Granted, I doubt I'll

  • That seemed small to me given the number of people signing petitions these days. The reason for it is that these are the people who signed the letter when it was originally drafted. There's no provision to add your own name to this letter, which is kind of too bad, because I'd sign on to it if I could. In this day and age, I wonder if having "only" 14 signatories to a letter (who aren't well known in some relevant field) detracts from the power of the message.
    • by Cederic ( 9623 )

      On the flip side, 2400 requests to an AG to investigate sounds notable.

      I don't know how engaged people in the US are with their AGs though so maybe that's just a couple of hours worth of inbound email.

  • ...Dead can vote, then the Dead can comment!

  • great list.. sortable alpha fname, mname, lname.
  • Does anyone know how to easily search through the mess to find instances of my name being abused?

  • when you can just steal somebody else's?

  • What a stupid move from net neutrality opponents.

    It would have been easy for Trump appointed FCC to remove net neutrality because "we won elections and we are legitimate to act on that". Now with obvious cheating, the change will never look legitimate.

  • 14 people have already signed Fight for the Future's official complaint to the FCC

    Seriously? FOURTEEN people?

    SMH

  • So another example of if you cant get support for something, just fake it. Works for polls. HAH
  • It needs to be emphasized: this is not a voting process.

    In the US regulatory process, a regulator like the FCC is bound to follow the laws passed by our representatives in Congress. Once the chambers pass a bill, that's the end of the vote counting, and the rest is implementing the legislation as passed.

    At this point in the regulatory process, a regulator is to address concerns that are brought up regardless of how many people voice each concern. It doesn't really matter whether five people or five hundred

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