NEW YORK – New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman and Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel on Monday called on the FCC to fully cooperate with Attorney General Schneiderman’s investigation, after the FCC Inspector General’s office reversed course and signaled its intent today to assist with Attorney General’s inquiry into one million fake comments submitted during the net neutrality comment process. Attorney General Schneiderman and Commissioner Rosenworcel also called for the FCC’s planned Dec. 14 vote on net neutrality to be halted while these fake comments are investigated.
“Federal law guarantees every American a voice in shaping our policies. But my office’s investigation found that this process was deeply corrupted – with one million comments that may have been submitted using real people’s stolen identities,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “For months the FCC refused to help us get to the bottom of what happened. That’s why we asked New Yorkers to help – and in the last few days alone, thousands of Americans and hundreds of New Yorkers have reported that their identities were misused. Finally, just this morning, the FCC Inspector General’s office indicated that it may help. We’re going to hold them to that – and, in the meantime, it’s vital that the FCC delay the vote until we know what happened.”
“Our Internet economy is the envy of the world because it is open to all. That is why I support net neutrality. But the FCC is on course to eliminate net neutrality guided by a record corrupted by hundreds of thousands of filings with stolen identities, close to half a million comments from Russian e-mail addresses, and an alleged distributed denial of service attack,” said FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “This is unacceptable. The integrity of the public record matters. The FCC needs to get to the bottom of this mess. No vote should take place until a responsible investigation is complete.”
In a Nov. 21 open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, Attorney General Schneiderman announced that his office has – for six months – been investigating the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments on the possible repeal of neutrality rules, which used real Americans’ identities. An updated analysis by the Attorney General’s office found that approximately one million of these comments may have misused the real names and addresses of Americans – including tens of thousands of New Yorkers.
Prior to releasing the open letter, the Attorney General’s office had contacted the FCC and its top officials at least nine times to request assistance in its investigation. The FCC and the FCC Inspector General’s office had been unwilling to provide records necessary to investigate who may be behind the misused identities – a departure from past practice, where the FCC has cooperated with the Attorney General’s office on confidential investigations into practices that harmed New Yorkers and residents of other states. However, earlier today, the FCC’s Inspector General’s office reversed course, indicating that it will assist with the Attorney General’s investigation.
Last week, on Wednesday, Attorney General Schneiderman launched a new webpage for New Yorkers to check whether their identities were wrongfully used without their consent. In the last five days alone, over 3,200 people have reported misused identities to the Attorney General’s office, including nearly 350 New Yorkers from across the state.
Attorney General Schneiderman urges New Yorkers to continue to check whether their identity was misused and report it to his office in order to inform the investigation.