Net Neutrality Update: Investigation and Transparency

Update on Net Neutrality

Net neutrality is on a lot of people’s minds, especially since the U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted to remove net neutrality rules. It’s an issue to which those of us at Word of the Nerd are paying close attention. Here’s an update on what’s currently going on.

Over 10 million net neutrality comments to FCC may be fake

Public Enemy No. 1: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai
Public Enemy No. 1: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai

The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is investigating the “possibility of fraud and identity theft during the FCC’s net neutrality rule making process.” In November, Chris Sanders of reported that more than half of the comments sent to the FCC regarding net neutrality appear to be fake, according to the Pew Research Center. Since there were 21.7 million comments in all, this is a sizeable number. Part of them came from temporary accounts, others came from beyond the grave.

Actor Mackenzie Astin (brother of Sean AstinLord of the Rings, The Goonies) found out a family member’s Twitter account had been hacked three times during this time period. On Dec. 14, Astin asked FCC Chairman Ajit Pai via tweet how his mother, actress Patty Duke, had sent comments supporting the repeal. She died in March of 2016.

Members of Congress requested the GAO investigation. The letter they sent to GAO said they “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.” The investigation will not take place for another five months.

AT&T CEO isn’t so transparent about his support of transparency

According to The Verge, AT&T bought a number of full-page newspaper ads (including The New York Times and The Washington Post) in support of net neutrality. But while AT&T CEO Randall Stephenson supports the “guarantee” of neutrality and transparency, as well as “consistent rules for all internet companies,” paid prioritization and fast lanes are not mentioned in his open-letter ads.

If paid prioritization is allowed, internet service providers (ISPs) could charge the big websites like Google, Facebook, Netflix, etc., extra fees for faster data transfer rates (or “fast lanes”). Essentially, paid prioritization would make it possible for ISPs to “influence the free market … dominate competition and stifle innovation.” Consumers and small companies would take a hit because ISPs could charge whatever they want.

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About the author

Minda Powers-Douglas

Minda was raised in movie theaters and can identify just about any 80s movie. She lives among her husband's comic books. Favorite movies: Sunset Boulevard, Rearview Window, The Goonies, IT, and Disney's animated Alice in Wonderland. Other favorite things: Stephen King books, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Bates Motel, Keanu Reeves, horror movies, Harry Potter, used bookstores, really good cookies, and her daughter. She is a freelance writer and editor. She also really likes cemeteries. Website: Twitter: @cemeteryminda and @scatteredadvice

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