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Congressional watchdog to investigate fraud during net neutrality rule making

Congressional watchdog to investigate fraud during net neutrality rule making

/ five months time

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Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

The US Government Accountability Office (GAO) says it will investigate the possibility of fraud and identity theft during the FCC’s net neutrality rule making process. In a letter written to Representative Frank Pallone Jr., the GAO said it would review the “extent and pervasiveness of fraud and the misuse of American identities” during the process, in about five months’ time.

The letter from GAO is dated January 9th and was tweeted by the House Committee on Energy and Commerce yesterday. In December, members of congress including Pallone Jr., Gregory Meeks, Elijah Cummings, and six other Democrats sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office requesting the investigation. “We understand that the FCC’s rulemaking process requires it to address all comments it receives, regardless of who submits them,” the members wrote at the time. “However, we do not believe any outside parties should be permitted to generate any comments to any federal governmental entity using information it knows to be false, such as the identities of those submitting the comments.”

Last year, millions of comments were posted on the FCC’s website in response to the proposed rollback of net neutrality internet protections. As we’ve previously reported, many of those comments were made by anti-neutrality spammers who impersonated real people. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman’s office had asked people to report fake net neutrality comments and in December, said up to 2 million comments misused Americans’ identities. The Pew Research Centre had previously estimated that more than half of the 21.7 million public comments submitted to the FCC appeared to include false information.

In December, the FCC approved the measure to kill net neutrality in a 3-2 vote. Since then, a number of lawsuits have been filed including one by 22 attorneys general led by Schneiderman, in efforts to block the repeal.