Protocol’s Issie Lapowsky summarizes the findings of an investigation into the public comments during the net neutrality debate before the FCC in 2017:
In a new report, New York Attorney General Letitia James found that of the more than 22 million public comments the Federal Communications Commission received in 2017 regarding the repeal of net neutrality protections, a whopping 18 million were fake. Millions of those comments, the report says, were funded by the broadband industry.
That’s around 82 percent of all the comments, which is both wild and disturbing. As someone who took the time to submit a comment for process, it’s more than a bit demoralizing to realize that any individual’s careful and thought-out remarks were basically meaningless amongst a deluge of fake posts.
As the report also points out, though many of the fake comments were created for the purpose of bolstering the broadband industry’s opposition to net neutrality, they were not limited to that side of the debate. A single 19-year-old college student, for example, submitted 7.7 million pro-net-neutrality comments.
Either way, this certainly casts enough doubt on the entire public comment process that it seems like a debate the FCC should be revisiting.