Pa. AG Josh Shapiro invites more residents to check site to see if their identities were stolen in FCC debate

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, 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.

We encourage respectful comments but reserve the right to delete anything that doesn't contribute to an engaging dialogue
Help us moderate this thread by flagging comments that violate our guidelines

Comment policy: comments are intended to be civil, friendly conversations. Please treat other participants with respect and in a way that you would want to be treated. You are responsible for what you say. And please, stay on topic. If you see an objectionable post, please report it to us using the "Report Abuse" option.

Please note that comments are monitored by staff. We reserve the right at all times to remove any information or materials that are unlawful, threatening, abusive, libelous, defamatory, obscene, vulgar, pornographic, profane, indecent or otherwise objectionable. Personal attacks, especially on other participants, are not permitted. We reserve the right to permanently block any user who violates these terms and conditions.

Additionally comments that are long, have multiple paragraph breaks, include code, or include hyperlinks may not be posted.

Load comments