FCC admits that its comment system was not designed to prevent fraud

19 Mar 2019

In reaction to allegations that millions of comments submitted about net neutrality in 2017 used data of American citizens without their consent, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) admitted in court that its electronic comment filing system (ECFS) was not designed to keep track of the origin of comments, to prevent fraud or the use of bots. If fraud does occur, which seems to be the case of net neutrality public comments, it is not designed to detect it, nor produce evidence of who is culpable. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai stated three months ago that ‘half-million comments’ about his net neutrality proposal were ‘submitted from Russian e-mail addresses.


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The Internet’s success lies in its design, which is based on the principle of net neutrality. From the outset, the flow of all the content on the Internet was treated without discrimination. New entrepreneurs did not need permission or market power to innovate on the Internet. With the development of new digital services, especially the ones consuming high bandwidth such as high-quality video streaming, some Internet operators (telecom companies and ISPs) started prioritising certain traffic – such as their own services or the services of their business partners – based on business needs and plans, justifying such an approach with a need to raise funds to further invest in the network. Net neutrality proponents strongly fight back such plans arguing this could limit open access to information and online freedoms, and stifle online innovation.


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