Wednesday, 13 December 2017
Latest news
Main » Bot-generated comments swamp FCC, urging overturn of net neutrality

Bot-generated comments swamp FCC, urging overturn of net neutrality

18 May 2017
Bot-generated comments swamp FCC, urging overturn of net neutrality

The flood of comments comes after commentator John Oliver, during his Sunday episode of "Last Week Tonight", called on the public to flood the FCC with comments supporting the 2015 rules. But many others appeared to have a different point of view.

The identical comments say that "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation".

When reached for comment, DCI Group spokesman Craig Stevens said in a statement that the firm doesn't comment about its clients or the work it does for them. For example, a huge chunk of identical comments from several commenters sharing the first name "Brittany", "Britteny", and "Briytany", all appear in order, followed by the, Brians, Briens, Brions, and Bryans.

FCC chief information officer Dr. David Bray said the attacks "made it hard for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC".

"I have no idea where that came from", says Lynn Vesely, whose IN address also appeared, and who was surprised to hear about the comment. Of those users that were contacted, none of them said they left any comments on the FCC website. "This sounds like a hacker or an outsider". CFIF is also sending email to its activists and others.

So, who's using the information of strangers to shill for opponents net neutrality, and try to tip the comments process in favour of Pai's position?

Ultimately, Oliver issued a call to arms for people to express their support for net neutrality and title oversight of ISPs. When asked about the supposed bot on its site, a spokesperson for the FCC said the agency does not comment on individual filings.

It's unclear who may have orchestrated the comments. According to the Verge, the comments can be traced back to the Center for Individual Freedom, which put out a press release today featuring language similar to the comments. "It shouldn't come as a surprise that the wording [of the email] is similar to the wording CFIF used in 2010 as our messaging on this general issue has been consistent for almost a decade".

The senators also pointed out that the attack, if legitimate, is a serious threat, "doubly so if the attack may have prevented Americans from being able to weigh in on your proposal to roll back net neutrality protections".

Searches for sentences and phrases from the comment, meanwhile, now return, well, stories like this one.

Indeed, the volume of commentary was over 10 times the amount Oliver inspired over the same number of days in 2014, when his influence was widely credited with the FCC's decision to reclassify internet service providers under Title II regulations a few months later.

They also pointed to the FCC's web problems this week-FCC CIO Dr. David Bray said a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack "made it hard for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC".