submitted millions of fake comments against the open
internet using stolen identities — including mine.
News & opinion by Mark Luskus
D.C.) -- My identity was stolen
this year. The perpetrator didn’t open
credit cards in my name or gain access to my finances. Instead, they
name to submit a comment to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)
support of repealing net neutrality rules.
rules, enacted in 2015, declared the internet to be a free and open
prevent internet service providers, or ISPs, like Comcast and
restricting access to any websites — either permanently or to charge
money to access them.
your water company charging you more for the water that comes out of
shower than the water that comes out of your sink. Or imagine not being
to use your shower at all, even though you pay a water bill.
what net neutrality rules protect consumers from when it comes to the
Ajit Pai, the current FCC chairman and a former lawyer for Verizon,
vote to repeal net neutrality and repeal it the FCC did. To do this, he
solicit public to comment on the matter.
the past, this has resulted in millions of
pro-net neutrality comments — which
makes sense, because most
Americans support it. But this time, an unusual number of
neutrality comments showed up.
Someone or some
groups salted the public comments to the FCC with millions of fake
Because of the 22 million comments received, half or more of them appear
to be fake, likely posted by bots or special interest
attempting to sway the FCC’s opinion. When I checked the FCC’s website,
learned that one of those fake comments used my own name and address.
had stolen my identity to advocate for a position that I didn’t agree
people and organizations, including the New York attorney general, have
petitioned the FCC for information on the scale and origin of fake
However, the FCC has rejected these petitions.
a federal agency, the FCC should be far more concerned about the
of the citizens they’re tasked to represent.
providers like Verizon, the former employer of the FCC chairman,
net neutrality rules slow their investments in internet technology.
ISPs exist in a shockingly non-competitive market.
than 50 million households in the United States have only one
of provider, and those providers score the
lowest customer satisfaction rates of all 43 industries
tracked by the
American Consumer Satisfaction Index.
I’ve never had an ISP that offers reasonable customer service or
speeds and reliability at the levels I pay for.
isn’t an industry that consumers are satisfied with, so why should they
even more power than they already do? No wonder they have to rely on
tactics like stealing identities and posting fake comments.
internet has become an essential tool in the 21st century. A small
companies shouldn’t have the power to decide which parts of it people
lies and identity theft highlight a major threat to the benefits of
communication. How can we prevent special interest groups from warping
internet to spread misinformation and further their political goals?
a question we must answer, because misinformation campaigns are
they’re being used to restrict your rights and freedoms.
at the very least, a former Verizon employee shouldn’t hold the power
ISPs a major win at the expense of consumers — and a free and open
Mark Luskus is
a med student at Emory
University. He’s interested in infectious diseases and public policy.
report first appeared at Otherwords.org and is reprinted here with