U.S. broadband industry accused in 'fake' net neutrality comments2021-05-07 18:50 by Daniela
The Office of the New York Attorney General said in a new report that a campaign funded by the broadband industry submitted millions of fake comments supporting the 2017 repeal of net neutrality.
Authorities said the industry poured more than $4.2 million through a nonprofit called Broadband for America into "lead generation" firms that created comments by using prizes to trick consumers into giving up personal information.
The three marketing firms used to generate the comments - Fluent, Opt-Intelligence, and React2Media - were required to implement "comprehensive reforms" and pay $4.4 million in penalties as a result of the investigation.
In total, about 18 million of the 22 million comments sent to the F.C.C. during the debate over the net neutrality rules were fake, the investigation found. More than nine million fake comments were filed at the F.C.C. supporting the rules, arguing that repealing them would leave consumers paying more for a slower internet, according to investigators. A 19-year-old computer science student was responsible for more than 7.7 million of them. The attorney general's office did not identify the origins of another "distinct group" of more than 1.6 million pro-net neutrality comments, many of which used mailing addresses outside the U.S.
"Federal and state agencies rely on public comments to set standards that govern many aspects of our lives, from public health to consumer protection to the environment, and, in this case, the rules that govern how we share and consume content over the internet," the report said. "Public comments can also influence legislators and the laws they enact."
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