FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 25, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, firstname.lastname@example.org
FCC must investigate and disclose any information about who is behind fake comments that posted people’s personal information into the FCC’s public docket without their permission. So far the agency has done nothing, and says they will count the fake comments as if they are real.
Victims of a campaign that spammed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) with over 450,000 fake anti-net neutrality comments have sent a letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai asking him to remove the fraudulent comments from the public docket and demanding an investigation into who is behind the identity theft.
“Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, exposed our private information in a public docket without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto,” the letter reads. The letter also warns that “hundreds of thousands of other Americans may have been victimized too.” See the full letter here.
Following the launch of Comcastroturf.com, a site encouraging Internet users to investigate the fake comments, Fight for the Future received dozens of verified reports from impacted people across the country. More than 2,400 people have also used the site to contact their state Attorneys General, calling for an investigation. (Separately, Fight for the Future also received a baseless “Cease and Desist” letter from Comcast attempting to censor Comcastroturf.com)
Three separate reports came from friends of recently-deceased individuals who confirmed their friends could not have posted the comments posthumously.
“In my nearly 30 years of being an Internet user, I’ve been extremely judicious about using my real name online. On those rare times when I have chosen to do so, it’s been for something I feel strongly about. To see my good name used to present an opinion diametrically opposed to my own view on Net Neutrality makes me feel sad and violated,” Joel Mullaney told Fight for the Future. “Whoever did this violated one of the most basic norms of our democratic society, that each of us have our own voice, and I am eager to know from what source the FCC obtained this falsified affidavit. I have been slandered,” Mr. Mullaney added.
Although much evidence of this identity theft has been documented by concerned citizens, experts, media outlets, and organizations like Fight for the Future,  Chairman Pai and the FCC have taken no steps to remove them from the docket, risking the safety and privacy of potentially hundreds of thousands of people.
The letter to Chairman Pai calls for the FCC to take the following actions: “ Notify all who have been impacted by this attack,  remove all of the fraudulent comments, including the ones made in our names, from the public docket immediately,  publicly disclose any information the FCC may have about the group or person behind the 450,000+ fake comments, and  call for an investigation by the appropriate authorities into possible violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (“Making false statements”) and other relevant laws.”
“There is significant evidence that a person or organization has been using stolen names and addresses to fraudulently file comments opposing net neutrality,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future. “For the FCC’s process to have any legitimacy, they simply cannot move forward until an investigation has been conducted. We need to know who is doing this,” she added.
Fight for the Future encourages journalists to investigate this situation, and is calling for the FCC to disclose any information it has pertaining to the person or organization behind this attack. Further, we encourage journalists to ask ISPs like Comcast, Verizon, and AT&T whether they are funding this activity, or providing funding for groups that could be engaging in this activity.
Fight for the Future is asking for all victims of this attack to email them with a report: email@example.com