The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has brushed off claims public comments about net neutrality are fake.
Nearly 30 US senators signed a letter addressed to FCC chairman Ajit Pai after a New York state attorney general unearthed ‘hundreds of thousands’ of fake comments supporting the decision to scrap it — a finding which (if true) would make the entire process corrupt.
But the FCC said it would not hand over documents about it reviewing process.
General counsel Thomas Johnson said: ‘While your letter suggests that the public comment process was somehow ‘corrupted’ by the alleged submission of comments under false names, you offer no evidence that this activity affected the Commission’s ability to review and respond to comments in the record.’
The letter was put together by 27 senators concerned about the future of the internet.
27 senators are calling on the FCC to delay its vote on repealing net neutrality rules, citing concerns that the agency's public comment file may be filled with fake comments. pic.twitter.com/sqmSQzZ6s4
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) December 4, 2017
Part of the letter reads: ‘A free and open Internet is vital to ensuring a level playing field online, and we believe that your proposed action may be based on an incomplete understanding of the public record in this proceeding.
‘In fact, there is good reason to believe that the record may be replete with fake or fraudulent comments, suggesting that your proposal is fundamentally flawed.’
It cites a six month investigation by attorney general Eric Schneiderman, who has reason to believe people have impersonated New York residents to leave comments in support of tearing down net neutrality.
This is a violation of state law.
The letter goes on to state: ‘A transparent and open process is vitally important to how the FCC functions. The FCC must invest its time and resources into obtaining a more accurate picture of the record as understanding that record is essential to reaching a defensible resolution to this proceeding.’
Net neutrality is your right to use the internet freely without big corporations limiting your access.
This basic principal was set in stone by the Obama administration a couple of years back.
But Trump’s FCC is trying to dismantle that. Officials want to tear down net neutrality, essentially creating a pay-to-play arena for big firms wanting a piece of the internet pie.
It means companies like Verizon, Comcast and AT&T could charge websites for delivering their data to consumers’ homes.
They could create fast and slow lanes on the internet, forcing firms to cough up the cash if they want to provide a better service, and making it harder for newcomers who might not have the capital to pay for quicker access.
This could ultimately have a knock-on affect whereby customers could be charged more via packages — much like a phone plan.
Internet providers would also have the power to block websites of competitors, for example.
But Pai argues that the current regulations limits business models, and the big firms agree, saying competition is healthy for the growth of any company.
Scrapping net neutrality also changes the game for Silicon Valley — something Washington is keen to do.
No longer would big players like Facebook, Google and Netflix have majority power over what sort of content is provided.
They argue that telecoms companies should not be able to split websites into fast lanes and slow lanes because it would allow them to become gatekeepers of internet information.
The changes are set to be put to a vote on December 14.
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