Fight for the Future


More than 15,000 people call on the FCC to remove and investigate fake anti-net neutrality comments using stolen names and addresses

Posted 13:53 EDT on June 12, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 12, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

 Following weeks of inaction from the FCC thousands have signed a petition calling for the agency to remove fake comments from the docket and publicly disclose any information it may have about the group submitting them.

Over 15,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to remove the comments of people whose names and addresses were used without their permission to submit fake anti-net neutrality statements, and release any information that it has about the group behind the fraudulent submissions.

The petition echoes a publicly released letter signed by over two dozen people who say someone made a false statement to a federal agency in their names.

“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,” Joel Mullaney, a software engineer who supports net neutrality, told Fight for the Future.

Despite the public requests from victims calling for the FCC to remove the fake comments, supported by mounting evidence [1][2][3][4], Chairman Ajit 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 [5].

“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. “Chairman Pai is completely undermining the public’s faith in the FCC and the current public debate about net neutrality protections. The agency has an obligation to remove falsified statements in its procedure and to publicly disclose whatever information it has about who is behind this,” she added.

Thousands of people agree, having signed a petition that echoes the demands of victims and calls for the FCC to take the following actions: “[1] Notify all who have been impacted by this attack, [2] remove all of the fraudulent comments, including the ones made in our names, from the public docket immediately, [3] publicly disclose any information the FCC may have about the group or person behind the 450,000+ fake comments, and [4] call for an investigation by the appropriate authorities into possible violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (“Making false statements”) and other relevant laws.”

Fight for the Future has launched Comcastroturf.com for Internet users to find out if a fake anti-net neutrality comment was submitted to the FCC in their name and address.

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.

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[1]https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/6cvg82/comcast_is_trying_to_censor_our_pronet_neutrality/dhxyjwg/

[2] https://medium.com/@csinchok/an-analysis-of-the-anti-title-ii-bots-463f184829bc
[3]http://kdvr.com/2017/05/14/7000-coloradans-names-addresses-used-to-post-fake-comments-about-government-decision/ [4]http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/160807353428/fcc-ignores-growing-evidence-of-fraud-moves-ahead

[5] https://www.forbes.com/sites/tonybradley/2017/05/26/victims-demand-fcc-remove-fake-anti-net-neutrality-comments/#1ffbf336e793

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Major web companies and public interest groups announce Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality

Posted 07:59 EDT on June 6, 2017
image

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, June 6, 2017

Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Organizations behind largest online protests in history plan massive action on July 12th. Initial confirmed participants include Amazon, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, Mozilla, Vimeo, GitHub, and Y Combinator

Internet activists and major websites have announced an “Internet-Wide Day of Action to Save Net Neutrality” scheduled for July 12th to oppose the FCC’s plan to slash Title II, the legal framework for net neutrality rules that protect online free speech and innovation.

See the announcement for the day of action here: https://battleforthenet.com/july12  

 The effort is led by many of the grassroots organizations who have organized the largest online protests in history including the SOPA blackout and the Internet Slowdown. The day of action will focus on grassroots mobilization, with public interest groups activating their members and major web platforms providing their visitors with tools to contact Congress and the FCC.

 The organizing for the day of action has just begun, but already as of today’s announcement more than 30 public interest groups and 15 major companies have signed on in support of the effort.

Companies participating include Amazon, Kickstarter, Etsy, Reddit, Mozilla, Vimeo, Y Combinator, GitHub, Private Internet Access, Pantheon, Bittorrent Inc., Shapeways, Nextdoor, Patreon, Dreamhost, and CREDO Mobile. Organizations participating include Fight for the Future, Free Press Action Fund, Demand Progress, Center for Media Justice, Internet Archive, World Wide Web Foundation, Creative Commons, National Hispanic Media Coalition, Greenpeace, Common Cause, ACLU, American Library Association, Daily Kos, OpenMedia, The Nation, PCCC, MoveOn, OFA, Public Knowledge, OTI, Color of Change, and many others.

Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, said: “The Internet has given more people a voice than ever before, and we’re not going to let the FCC take that power away from us. Massive online mobilization got us the strong net neutrality protections that we have now, and we intend to fight tooth and nail to defend them. Politicians in Washington, DC need to learn that net neutrality is not a partisan issue and Internet users will not tolerate these attacks on our basic rights – we will come together to protect the web as an open platform for free expression and exchange of ideas.”

Michal Rosenn, General Counsel at Kickstarter, said: “A threat to net neutrality is a threat to the free exchange of ideas that creative culture and an informed public rely upon. Kickstarter, and the tens of thousands of creators who have brought new ideas to life through our platform, all depend on a free and open internet. We’re proud to stand alongside so many others today to preserve net neutrality, and to protect the freedoms that make the internet such a powerful force.”

Malkia Cyril, executive director at the Center for Media Justice, said: “Communities of color across the United States depend on an open Internet to thrive. From resisting police violence to demanding fair wages – the political voice and economic opportunity that the Internet enables must remain protected by Title II net neutrality. Trump’s FCC seeks to wall these communities off from the power of the internet as a mobilizing tool and an equalizer. On July 12, we will stand together with activists, Internet users of color, advocacy groups, and tech companies to preserve democracy by defending our Internet.”

Michael Cheah, General Counsel, Vimeo, said: “Net neutrality made it possible for Vimeo, along with countless other startups, to innovate and thrive. The FCC’s proposed rollback of the 2015 open Internet rules threatens to impede that innovation and allow a handful of incumbent ISPs to determine winners and losers. On July 11th, Vimeo will proudly join our fellow tech brethren to rally Internet users nationwide to demand strong net neutrality rules to prevent ISPs from manipulating Internet traffic.”

Mark Stanley, communications director of Demand Progress, said: “The FCC’s plan to dismantle net neutrality will unfairly pad the bottom lines of Comcast and the rest of Big Cable, while undermining the public’s ability to freely communicate, organize, and innovate. Every few years, a threat so severe confronts the open internet that people, organizations, and companies from across the political spectrum—including some of the largest online platforms—must band together in common cause to fight back. The FCC’s ongoing effort to roll back net neutrality protections represents just such a threat — and on the July 12th day of action, we’ll once again use the transformative power of the internet to defend the internet itself.”

Sam Altman, President of Y Combinator, said: "At Y Combinator, the startup accelerator I run, we have proudly supported thousands of entrepreneurs and more than 1,400 businesses, including companies like AirBnB and Dropbox. Companies like these have gone on to change our lives for the better—how we work, how we eat, how we live. They could grow and compete, and ultimately consumers choose who wins and loses online. Without strong net neutrality rules, though, I’m concerned that the cable and wireless companies that control internet access will have outsized power to pick winners and losers in the market.”

Free Press Campaign Director Candace Clement said: “It’s like déjà vu. The last time Net Neutrality came before the FCC, internet users across the political spectrum swamped the agency with comments demanding strong Net Neutrality protections. The internet won’t go down quietly in 2017 and on July 12 people, companies, organizations and websites will let everyone know that the Trump FCC lacks a public mandate to take away our online rights. We will make it impossible for Chairman Pai to continue to cling to the sorts of alternative facts against Net Neutrality that we’ve proven to be wrong time and again.”

Denelle Dixon, Mozilla’s Chief Legal and Business Officer, said: “Net neutrality is vital to a healthy Internet: it protects free speech, competition and innovation online. It’s also something a majority of Americans support — 76%, according to a recent Mozilla-Ipsos poll. By reverting to a Title I classification for ISPs, the FCC is endangering Americans’ access to a free and open web. The FCC is creating an Internet that benefits ISPs, not users.”

Zachary Rosen, CEO of Pantheon, said: “We started Pantheon to make it easier for organizations big and small to succeed on the Web. But if strong net neutrality rules under Title II go away, it’d put both us and our customers’ innovation at risk.”

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Victims whose stolen names and addresses were used to submit fake anti-net neutrality comments send letter to FCC demanding investigation

Posted 10:54 EDT on May 25, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 25, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.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, [1][2][3][4] 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: “[1] Notify all who have been impacted by this attack, [2] remove all of the fraudulent comments, including the ones made in our names, from the public docket immediately, [3] publicly disclose any information the FCC may have about the group or person behind the 450,000+ fake comments, and [4] 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: team@fightforthefuture.org

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[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/technology/comments/6cvg82/comcast_is_trying_to_censor_our_pronet_neutrality/dhxyjwg/

[2] https://medium.com/@csinchok/an-analysis-of-the-anti-title-ii-bots-463f184829bc

[3] http://kdvr.com/2017/05/14/7000-coloradans-names-addresses-used-to-post-fake-comments-about-government-decision/

[4] http://tumblr.fightforthefuture.org/post/160807353428/fcc-ignores-growing-evidence-of-fraud-moves-ahead

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Letter to the FCC from people whose names and addresses were used to submit fake comments against net neutrality

Posted 10:40 EDT on May 25, 2017

May 25, 2017
The Honorable Ajit Pai
Chairman
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554 

Dr. David A. Bray
Chief Information Officer
Federal Communications Commission
445 12th Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20554

CC Members of U.S. Congress

Dear Chairman Pai,

Our names and personal information were used to file comments we did not make to the Federal Communications Commission.

We are disturbed by reports that indicate you have no plans [1] to remove these fraudulent comments from the public docket. Whoever is behind this stole our names and addresses, publicly exposed our private information without our permission, and used our identities to file a political statement we did not sign onto. Hundreds of thousands of other Americans may have been victimized too. 

We call on you, the Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, 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
  • Call for an investigation by the appropriate authorities into possible violations of 18 U.S.C. § 1001 (“making false statements”) and other relevant laws.

 As chairman of the FCC, an independent federal agency, it is your responsibility to maintain public trust, especially while your agency is fielding comments on the future of the free and open Internet, an issue that millions of Americans care deeply about.

Based on numerous media reports [2], nearly half a million Americans may have been impacted by whoever impersonated us in a dishonest and deceitful campaign to manufacture false support for your plan to repeal net neutrality protections.

While it may be convenient for you to ignore this, given that it was done in an attempt to support your position, it cannot be the case that the FCC moves forward on such a major public debate without properly investigating this known attack.

All proper authorities must be notified immediately and the FCC must disclose any and all information the agency has pertaining to the organization or person behind these fake comments.

Sincerely, 

Brittany Ainsworth, Huntington Beach, CA
Greg Baynes, View Park, CA,
William Brahams, San Bernardino, CA
Christian Brown, Redondo Beach, CA
John Burr, New York, NY
Angelica Collins, Bear, DE
Megan Conschafter, Buffalo, NY
Ben Currier, Littleton, CO
Norman Daoust, Cambridge, MA
Cynthia Duby, Desert Hot Springs, CA
Aaron Francis, Santa Ana, CA
Michelle Ellett, Benicia, CA
Adam Galatioto, Gainesville, FL
Surbhi Godsay, Nashua, NH
Daniel Hickey, Worcester, MA
Richard O. Johnson, Castro Valley, CA
Samuel Lewis, Oakland, CA
Paulo Llanes, Seattle, WA
Joel Mullaney, Watertown, MA
Shaun O’Brien, Elito, ME
Nicholas Pannuto, Sterling Heights, MI
Daniel Pinkert, New York City, NY
John Ulick, Champaign, IL
Arianna Williams, Philadelphia, PA
Melissa Williams, Dallas, TX
Nicholas Ryan, East Lansing, MI
Adam Stone, Salt Lake City, UT


[1] http://www.vocativ.com/431065/fcc-ajit-pai-net-neutrality-bots/

[2] https://www.theverge.com/2017/5/10/15610744/anti-net-neutrality-fake-comments-identities

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Comcast tries to censor pro-net neutrality website calling for investigation of fake FCC comments potentially funded by cable lobby

Posted 11:06 EDT on May 23, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, May 23, 2017
Contact: Evan Greer, 978-852-6457, press@fightforthefuture.org

Fight for the Future received a cease and desist order from Comcast’s attorneys for our site Comcastroturf.com. Without net neutrality rules, Comcast could have censored the site outright.

Digital rights group Fight for the Future has received a cease and desist order from Comcast’s lawyers, claiming that Comcastroturf.com - a pro-net neutrality site encouraging Internet users to investigate an astroturfing campaign likely funded by the cable lobby - violates Comcast’s “valuable intellectual property.” The letter threatens legal action if the domain is not transferred to Comcast’s control.

“This is exactly why we need Title II net neutrality protections that ban blocking, throttling, and censorship,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, “If Ajit Pai’s plan is enacted, there would be nothing preventing Comcast from simply blocking sites like Comcastroturf.com that are critical of their corporate policies,” she added. “It also makes you wonder what Comcast is so afraid of? Are their lobbying dollars funding the astroturfing effort flooding the FCC with fake comments that we are encouraging Internet users to investigate?”

The legal notice can be viewed here. It claims that Comcastroturf.com violates the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act and infringes on Comcast’s trademarks. Of course, these claims are legally baseless, since the site is clearly a form of First Amendment protected political speech and makes no attempt to impersonate Comcast.

(See the case “Bosley Medical Institute vs. Kremer which held that sites critical of a company’s practices could not be considered trademark infringement.)

Comcastroturf.com encourages Internet users to search the Federal Communication Commission (FCC)’s docket to check if a fake comment was submitted using their name and address to attack Title II based net neutrality protections. It has been widely reported that more than 450,000 of these comments have been submitted to the FCC – and as a result of the site at Comcastroturf.com, Fight for the Future has heard from dozens of people who say that anti-net neutrality comments were submitted using their personal information without their permission. We have connected individuals with Attorneys Generals and have called for the FCC act immediately to investigate this potential fraud.

“Companies like Comcast have a long history of funding shady astroturfing operations like the one we are trying to expose with Comcastroturf.com, and also a long history of engaging in censorship,” said Greer, “this is a perfect example of why we need bright line net neutrality rules that protect our free speech online, and why we can’t just trust Internet Service Providers to behave when they’ve abused their power time and time again.”

Fight for the Future has no intention of taking down Comcastroturf.com, and would be happy to discuss the matter with Comcast in court.

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