The Pennsylvania attorney general’s office says that 303,000 people have searched the agency’s website for fake comments submitted in their names to the Federal Communications Commission during the nation’s “net neutrality” debate last year.
Of those, 3,120 people — or about 1 percent — said that their names and emails had been stolen or used inappropriately, the state law enforcement agency said.
In December, the FCC rolled back Obama-era internet protections, commonly referred to as net neutrality, which forbade firms from blocking websites and deliberately speeding or slowing internet traffic, marking a big win for Comcast, Verizon and other telecommunications companies.
According to the FCC website, almost 24 million Americans publicly commented through email to the FCC as it discussed deregulating the internet, or the equivalent of 1 in every 14 Americans, a number that many experts found suspect.
Consulting companies and analysts said that millions of those comments were fake, some emanating from computer servers in Russia.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro said it was “outrageous” that the federal agency relied on fake comments and has sought to find victims through his agency’s website, https://badcomments.attorneygeneral.gov. The attorney general’s office estimates that there could be as many as 100,000 fake comments submitted by Pennsylvanians and “used fraudulently to influence the FCC’s process.”
Shapiro, a Democrat, said in a statement that he plans “to take legal action to protect net neutrality.” Other Democratic attorneys general will likely participate.
The Republican-controlled FCC said that it considered only the comments that were important when drafting rules deregulating the internet, discarding the fake ones.