Before the FCC voted 3-2 to kill neutrality, Americans had an opportunity to read the proposal and submit comments to the FCC. However, you might as well have been shouting at a wall. The whole process was highly suspect, with the system inundated with fake pro-repeal comments by everyone from deceased relatives to, apparently, former President Barack Obama himself. You know, the guy whose administration spoke in favor of net neutrality regulations in the first place.
"The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy, and obstructing job creation," Obama apparently wrote about his own regulations. "I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years. The plan currently under consideration at the FCC to repeal Obama's Title II power grab is a positive step forward and will help to promote a truly free and open internet for everyone."
The obviously fake comment itself is rather silly to think about, but it's not the only one. There are actually dozens ascribed to Obama, and they speak to a bigger problem. New York attorney general Eric Schneiderman brought attention to the issue of "fake comments" last month when he criticized the FCC for refusing to cooperate with an investigation into the matter. Schneiderman said at the time that his office had been investigating "a massive scheme to corrupt the FCC's notice and comment process" for six months, during which time it asked for (and was ignored or denied) crucial information at least nine times.
"In May 2017, researchers and reporters discovered that the FCC’s public comment process was being corrupted by the submission of enormous numbers of fake comments concerning the possible repeal of net neutrality rules. In doing so, the perpetrator or perpetrators attacked what is supposed to be an open public process by attempting to drown out and negate the views of the real people, businesses, and others who honestly commented on this important issue," Scheiderman wrote. "Worse, while some of these fake comments used made up names and addresses, many misused the real names and addresses of actual people as part of the effort to undermine the integrity of the comment process."
While it's pretty easy to spot some of the fake comments, in particular ones posted by Barack Obama with 1600 Pennsylvania Ave listed as the address, not all of the fake submissions are obvious. Mashable editor Monica Chin suspects that her name was attached to a fake comment, too.
"This could, admittedly, be a different Monica Chin. There are 45 results if you search my name on LinkedIn. But this gets shadier. One of our editors with a much less common name [Jason Abbruzzese] searched for his name, and found his name tied to a comment as well—the exact same comment that my name was tied to, word for word," Chin said.
Prior to the vote, the proposal received tens of millions of comments. It's hard telling how many were fake. And not that it comes as any consolation, but Pai and company never seemed interested in entertaining the feedback, anyway.