New York's attorney general claims comment process for the net neutrality debate was corrupted — and Trump's FCC doesn't care.
Raising doubts about the process by which Donald Trump’s FCC decided to move ahead and try to overturn net neutrality rules that protect consumer choice on the internet, New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman claims the commission has stonewalled his office’s six-month investigation into a "massive scheme" designed to sway commissioners on the issue.
Writing to commission chairman Ajit Pai, who was installed by Donald Trump, Schneiderman detailed how there was a concerted effort to "corrupt the FCC's comment process on net neutrality by impersonating 100,000s of real Americans," and that the commission has repeatedly refused to cooperate with New York investigators.
"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," he wrote.
On Tuesday, Pai announced the Republican-controlled commission would vote next month on gutting the neutrality rules that were put into place during the Obama administration.
Such a move would "give Internet providers broad powers to determine what websites and online services their customers can see and use," the Washington Post reported. "Tuesday’s move hands a win to broadband companies such as AT&T, Verizon and Comcast," the paper continued.
Back in April, the FCC posted what it calls a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, which urges interested parties — whether its corporations, lobbyists or just citizens — to file comments and detail their support or opposition of the pending issue before the commission.
In May, Schneiderman’s office became involved when "researchers and reporters discovered that the FCC’s public comment process was being corrupted by the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules."
His office quickly determined that tens of thousands of New Yorkers may have had their identities misused as part of the scheme, and that hundreds of thousands may have been affected nationwide.
In June, the New York Attorney General’s office contacted the FCC in search of records connected to the comments process. Schneiderman’s office again contacted the FCC in July, August, September, October and November. But they never received any response from the commission.
The FCC’s attack on net neutrality is part of a larger anti-consumer push within the commission. Last week, the FCC voted to eliminate key caps on corporate media growth. The radical move is seen as a way to make sure that the right-wing outpost Sinclair Broadcast Group, a Trump ally, will be allowed to close on its a $3.9 billion bid to acquire the Tribune Company.