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Good News: Fake Comments Don’t Matter

By Demri Scott | June 09, 2017

The public commenting period on repealing Title II regulations is in full swing and the Bots are on a roll. Here’s the good news: the commenting process is not a popularity contest.

The National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) found that more than 465,322 pro-Title II comments submitted to the Federal Communications Commission FCC were duplicates or filed with fraudulent names. Experts at the NLPC also found that between May 24th and May 30th, thousands of comments were submitted from French, German and Russian email addresses. Many of the comments “appear to have been generated using fake email addresses, fake international physical addresses, and likely fake names.”

News on fake Title II comments is hardly new. Nearly a month ago, the Daily Caller found that of a random sample of around 10,000 pro-Title II comments at the FCC, only 44% of respondents recalled submitting a public comment while 39% denied or did not remember submitting a comment. The remaining 17% refused to respond to whether they submitted a comment. This sample estimates that over 300,000 pro-Title II comments could be fake, supporting the findings of the NLPC.

Free Beacon also found that the FCC has received thousands of comments from fake aliases such as “John Oliver”, “Homer Simpson”, “Obama” and “1”. Many of these comments are riddled with derogatory slurs and personal attacks directed towards Chairman Ajit Pai himself. While comments submitted to the FCC are public, very few owned up to their comments when asked about Title II.

This comes at a time marked by criticism from supporters of Title II regulations and heavy media coverage and accusations of fake comments from those in the anti-Title II camp. Meanwhile, over 400,000 pro-Title II comments have already been confirmed as fake.

The number of comments is important, and there is nothing wrong with genuine comments from either side. The renewed issue surrounding mass comments makes it clear as to why individually generated comments on the merits of the FCC proposal carry more weight. The FCC has posed questions and requested thoughtful comments to aid in the FCC’s decision-making. The FCC has made it clear that the commenting process is not a popularity contest.

The FCC, under Chairman Pai, kick started the regulatory process of removing Title II regulations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in an effort to free the internet. A part of the process in repealing Title II regulations from ISPs includes a public commenting period where Americans can provide their perspective on the proposed rulemaking.

Despite over a decade of a flourishing internet economy under the light touch regulatory framework championed by the Clinton Administration, in 2015 the Obama Administration reclassified ISPs as a common carrier, subjecting them to Title II regulations through a 1934 law initially used to reign in the Ma Bell monopoly. Title II created significant government oversight on the types of services and rates ISPs can provide as well as who they can service.  Since the inception of Title II regulations, economists have argued that Title II regulations have negatively impacted capital investment in the economy.

The fight to free the internet from government control is now in the public’s hands, but the good news is that at the end of the day, substantive comments will ultimately prevail. 

See more: Soros and Title II Day of Action

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