back to article Remember the millions of fake net neutrality comments? They weren't as kosher as the FCC made out

One of the key arguments behind the Federal Communications Commission's decision to repeal net neutrality was the number of supportive emails it had received for its proposals. But an investigation has shown that a huge number of these were faked by lobbyists. What's more, the company responsible – LCX Digital – used a dataset …

  1. Denarius
    Meh

    why is it always

    rightwing lobbyists ? Never left wing lobbyists who seem to be more feted by the remnants of media. Why does a description harking back to the dysfunctional French monarchy get dredged up when only current choices seem to be between different flavours of lying totalitarian bureaucracy ? In short, whats the difference between them ?

    1. HildyJ

      Re: why is it always

      Because there's no evidence that any other company pulled millions of email addresses off a hacker site and used them to mass mail comments to a federal website in support or opposition to a rule or regulation on behalf of a left wing lobying group. Duh.

      1. Bite my finger

        Re: why is it always

        The Electronic Frontier Foundation was caught gaming the system in favor of NN. And that was just the ones that got caught. I mean, there wasn't really any Buzzfeed investigation of the EFF or any other leftwing lobbyists at the time.

        1. HildyJ

          Re: why is it always

          That was debunked as a false flag operation by another right wing lobby group.

          https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20170602/09412737503/report-falsely-blames-eff-fraudulent-net-neutrality-comments.shtml

      2. TRT Silver badge

        Re: why is it always

        If only they did, it might counter the effect of this fake lobbying.

    2. katrinab Silver badge
      Boffin

      Re: why is it always

      People with lots of money tend not to support left-wing positions, and therefore don't fund lobbyists to promote those views.

      1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
        Thumb Down

        Re: why is it always

        "People with lots of money tend not to support left-wing positions, and therefore don't fund lobbyists to promote those views."

        That's the single biggest crock of shit i've read today. Anyone with money will lobby for any thing, regardless of political affiliation, and yet i can name many many more on the left than the right.

        Here's a selection that most people have heard of just off the top of my head: George Soros, Tony Blair, Tim Cook, Mark Zuckerberg, Larry Page, Sundar Pichai, All the Clintons, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, Richard Branson.

        1. sum_of_squares
          Facepalm

          Re: why is it always

          Allrighty, so all those are supposed to be left-wing people.

          Is this some sort of twisted joke?

          1. tekHedd

            Re: why is it always

            The listed examples are awful, but it's hard not to agree with the premise. "Powerful people will use that power." The whole left-right thing is just red (and blue) herrings, and it's working so well we debate it as if it's a real thing and get totally sidetracked from, you know, whatever it is we were just talking about. Who wants lunch?

            1. Tigra 07 Silver badge
              Thumb Up

              Re: why is it always

              They were off the top of my head. Frankly it wouldn't be a good list if no one had heard of the people on it. I appreciate the fair and level-headed reponse though. Always nice in an online discussion.

              1. sum_of_squares

                Re: why is it always

                Sticks and stones.

                Maybe it's all about the wording. To me a true leftist can never be rich, because that's somehow the point of being a leftie: Taking the money from the rich, feeding the poor, overcoming boundaries, appreciating individualism (at least if we talk about the newer left-wing groups, communism is a different beast).

                The word "conservative" does literally mean to preserve, to maintain (a certain state or course of action). This is typically tied to having an elite group vs a poor group, maintaining traditional boundaries and more often than not the "If you've got nothing to hide, you've got nothing to fear" mindset.

                Now how are those people you listed left-wing? OK, I'll give you Soros, but Bill Gates who helps the poor.. agriculture organizations and their profits? Or Mark "gimme-all-you-data" Zuckerberg? Not really.

      2. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: why is it always

        And when they do they get called all sorts of nasty things, by the right and left. e.g. Soros who funds all sorts of liberal and humanitarian causes and is accused of leading a world wide (Jewish) conspiracy, by both the far right and far left (n.b. Rees-Mogg recently)

        1. Tigra 07 Silver badge

          Re: why is it always

          Anyone who donates money to a cause seems to be open to those accusations. Even donating to existing charities leads to some people being accused of supporting everything that company has ever done. Bill Gates seems immune to this, so perhaps it's better to create a charity...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: why is it always

      Everyone seems to be arguing over the political persuasion of the lobbyists.

      Given those involved (FCC and telcos), the "lobbyists" were likely to have been created to make the evidence that the FCC needed for their argument.

      Now for tin foil hat time: given the FCC is basically a sock puppet for the telcos and the telco's wouldn't want to get their hands dirty, I suspect an investigation would trace the source back to the FCC. If I'm wrong and the FCC were concerned they might be caught using manufactured, half-assed evidence, then it's possible that some insignificant US telco was involved - the big guys only dirty their hands if they really look like losing.

      TL;DR: stop arguing about the political persuasion of the lobbyists, its an irrelevant side issue. Reform the bureaucracy so that it is transparent and vaguely neutral. And maybe send Pai for an x-ray to see if he's human or just has a telco's hand inside him working the limbs and mouth.

    4. hairydog

      Re: why is it always

      Why mostly right-wing? Follow the money!

      The right wing is mostly in the pocket of people who put mking money above other stuff.

      The left tends to be more centred on honesty and fairness.

      1. Mr Sceptical
        Devil

        Are you sure about that?

        "The left tends to be more centred on honesty and fairness."

        Communism or socialism are the ultimate left-wing, 'fair' (as in sharing resources) systems - look how well they work out once actual humans are involved in running them. Power over others tends to attract power-fixated nut jobs.

        That said, the cnuts involved in this farce deserve to be staked out in the sun and left for the ants, proper Wild West style - that'll learn them!

        1. Teiwaz Silver badge

          Re: Are you sure about that?

          Communism or socialism are the ultimate left-wing

          That's assuming that the left/right wing thing is a sort straight line or bar.

          Might as well say the earth is flat.

          Left and right are on a curve and meet at the far end, a safe, liberal, permissive society is a very narrow strip in the ring.

          A one party communist state only differs from a one party nationalist state in the rhetoric of the propaganda.

          1. jospanner

            Re: Are you sure about that?

            Horsehoe theory eh?

            Sooo how does that account for libertarian socialism?

            1. aks Bronze badge

              Re: Are you sure about that?

              Heard about it but I don't think it's ever been seen in the wild. I'm not counting hippy communes who don't seem to want to take over the world but gradually evaporate as their members grow up a little.

              1. Terry 6 Silver badge

                Re: Are you sure about that?

                I've dealt with the fall-out from a couple of hippy communes.

                Kids who are poorly nourished, insecure, ill/un-educated, unable to cope in the outside world, neglected, sometimes exploited and abused.No thank you.

          2. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
            Paris Hilton

            Re: Are you sure about that?

            • Political thinking lives on a 1-Dimensional line. No wonder it promotes the most ignorant of human thought.

            • Real life for all of us is 3-Dimensional, including how we think.

            Crazies to the Left of me. Crazies to the Right of me. I thought for myself and walked away...

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: Are you sure about that?

              Indeed. Left wing nuts, right wing nuts, they are all wingnuts marching in lockstep, incapable of thinking for themselves (or too apathetic to bother), and completely beneath contempt.

            2. sum_of_squares
              Devil

              Re: Are you sure about that?

              Oh welp. Crazy left wings don't blow up city buildings or shoot up a school or mosque. Righties do this all the time.

              But I see your point: Dying your hair, forcing a code of conduct upon some company and doing some camping to help refugees can be cruel in it's own special way.

              Totally the same.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: why is it always

        "The right wing is mostly in the pocket of people who put mking money above other stuff.

        The left tends to be more centred on honesty and fairness."

        For such a huge generalisation to be useful in any argument, you would need to provide some evidence to clearly show a trend. My bet is that for any evidence that you can provide supporting your arguments for left/right wing, I can provide counter examples that suggest that your evidence doesn't show a trend and therefore is more likely to be an unsupported opinion than actual fact.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: why is it always

          The Left, for a defined value of Left, seek to redistribute wealth.

          The Right, ditto,to aggregate it.

          It's within the definition of these terms.

          But it really only becomes a significant issue in the more extreme values.

          Then we have Devil Take the Hindmost free marketeers who believe that any behaviour is acceptable to aggregate resources for themselves versus Pseudo-Egalitarian command economy.

          In both cases though it's the people at the top that seem to have the fullest lunch boxes.

      3. david 12 Bronze badge

        Re: why is it always

        I was involved in student politics, and some of my friends were actual communist party members. I won't argue about their idea of fairness, but honesty was not a centre. They took the position that society as it exists is fundamentally corrupt, and that the overthrow of the existing order by any means was morally justified.

        1. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: why is it always

          I had that experience in the 70s.

          1. Spike of Bayswater

            Re: why is it always

            Jeremy - is that you?

    5. Danny 2 Silver badge

      Re: why is it always

      Fake comments, fake news, the biggest witch-hunt in history, and I say that as a strong and stable genius with all the best words. Now what do you know about the crooked Bidens?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Danny 2 - Re: why is it always

        In other words, OK everybody, let's look somewhere else, nothing to be seen here.

    6. TeeCee Gold badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: why is it always

      That's 'cos the right wing types automate the process (capitalism, mass production, etc), which isn't allowed.

      The left wing types (value of labour, useful idiots, etc) just get a load of their agitprop sheep to post, which is allowed.

      Botnet wrong, meatnet right (or left in this case).

  2. swm Bronze badge

    Why did the FCC accept all of these fake comments?

    Plausible deniability. So they could do what they wanted to.

    1. Garymrrsn

      Re: Why did the FCC accept all of these fake comments?

      They didn't.

      The present administration is so sure of it's power they no longer need to hide behind a facade of honesty.

      1. veti Silver badge

        Re: Why did the FCC accept all of these fake comments?

        Facade of democracy.

        We're all talking as if "comments" were somehow equivalent to "votes", so what matters is how many you receive. That's a stupid idea on the face of it, it brings up all the problems we've always known about online voting, and with ZERO safeguards.

        I have always treated comment periods as an opportunity to make points that hadn't already been answered in the official published reasoning, on the basis that they might have been overlooked. It follows that there is absolutely no point in sending the same message more than once. A point made by one person is just as valid as one made by a million.

        So, while it's no doubt fun for Pai and his mates to troll their opponents like this, it's not necessary. It's just the "smoke" part of "smoke and mirrors". It's a distraction. All of it.

        1. M Mouse

          Re: Well Ahead of Red Hat

          "A point made by one person is just as valid as one made by a million."

          That's the scientific approach.

          In government (I am in the UK so looking from outside a US perspective / knowledge), the fact there has been "so much feedback, most of it supporting our plans" is ideal for the body to use when responding to criticism or interviews by the media.

          The media will perhaps still criticise but the general public, who will mostly remain ignorant of how fake support has been bought, might then be persuaded that the policy is an acceptable one, because the body, and many "interested parties" think it is a "good idea", even when we know it is complete garbage, and the "interested parties" are spoofed.

          The public think of this as a vote "for" the proposition and if "public comment" is overwhelmingly supportive, then the policy (however good or bad - for them it was TL;DR) is "OK".

          1. Jaybus

            Re: Well Ahead of Red Hat

            "That's the scientific approach."

            Really? Because in arguments made on other topics, scientific consensus seems to be of great importance.

    2. Terry 6 Silver badge

      Re: Why did the FCC accept all of these fake comments?

      That's taking conspiricism a step (or more) too far.

      1. sum_of_squares

        Re: Why did the FCC accept all of these fake comments?

        What are you on about? Plausible deniability is the bread and butter of politics.

      2. tekHedd

        Re: Why did the FCC accept all of these fake comments?

        "conspiracy theory" - an unproved hypothesis about a group of people secretly manipulating the government

        "current events" - a proved, openly visible group of people openly manipulating the government, and laughing about it on twitter

  3. Mark 85 Silver badge

    It's the new world order...

    We, the people, are the pawns and are supposed to just follow along with what the corporates and, by extension, the politicians want. Politics here in the States have so full of BS, sound bites, etc. that truth is lost in the shouting by all sides. And let's add in that there are companies and people who will sell and do anything for the highest bidder. This appears to be one of them.

    As the old saying goes: "We have the best government money can buy."

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Mark 85 - Re: It's the new world order...

      It's an interesting exercise to watch US people speaking about democracy. And quite depressing to see a lot of other people still believing the USA is the biggest democracy on the planet.

      1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

        Re: @Mark 85 - It's the new world order...

        still believing the USA is the biggest democracy on the planet.

        Neither in numbers (that would be India) nor in quality (Scandinavia and continental Western Europe, the Brits are out of it with that Brexit farce and their de facto two party system).

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: @Mark 85 - It's the new world order...

          But the USA is still the biggest democracy if you measure it by, um ... GDP. Yeah, GDP!

          Assuming you don't believe China's "people's democratic dictatorship led by the working class" line. And I don't, because China's fake democracy is clearly qualitatively faker than our fake democracy.

          For that matter, if you exclude China, we win by land area, too. (Canada is only bigger if you go by total surface area, according to Wikipedia, which is an unimpeachable source that is never incorrect in any detail.)

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: @Mark 85 - It's the new world order...

          "[...] the Brits are out of it with that Brexit farce and their de facto two party system"

          Not quite. The checks & balances against the Westminster Executive are holding. PM Johnson has lost every Brexit vote in Parliament - and a Supreme Court action - since he came to the position.

          His possible game plan is to bypass the elected representatives and the judiciary by channelling himself as being the embodiment of "the will of the people" whose "simple solution only needs total power". Those are the well-worn catch-phrases of every dictator in the 20th and 21st centuries - and even go back to Julius Caesar's grab for power.

          The BBC iPlayer currently has a programme that explores the resonance of those political periods with current times. "A Timewatch Guide Series 4: 3. Dictators and Despots" was made in 2017 - and is apparently even more relevant today.

          1. The Mole

            Re: @Mark 85 - It's the new world order...

            "[...] the Brits are out of it with that Brexit farce and their de facto two party system"

            Also I'd point out their isn't a British two party system currently, Northern Ireland has its own set of parties (and the DUP is even relevant at the moment), Scotland and Wales both have their nationalist parties which currently do exceedingly well in elections.

            Even in England (where traditionally it has been a two party system and dominating the rest of the country) currently the lib dems in some polls are beating labour and the brexit party is not that far behind. The next election could be really interesting, although long term a two party system will probably re-establish itself (though which 2 parties?)

    2. O RLY

      Re: It's the new world order...

      And as Will Rogers said, "be grateful you're not getting all the government you're paying for."

    3. Steve Aubrey
      Joke

      Re: It's the new world order...

      "We have the best government money can buy."

      They say an honest politician is one who stays bought.

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: It's the new world order...

      Well, we have a government money can buy. I don't think it's the best one.

  4. DougS Silver badge

    Bulk upload??

    Why in the WORLD would you ever provide a bulk upload option for public comments? That's pretty much saying "please stack the deck". They should make it as manual as possible to post a comment, to avoid not only a third party writing comments in your name but you being able to simply cut and paste a comment off a website or Facebook page telling you to. Boilerplate comments that are cut and pasted should be automatically disregarded, as the people who post them put no thought at all into what they say and probably don't even understand what they're commenting on other than "Sean Hannity / Rachel Maddow told me to"

    1. sorry, what?
      Stop

      Re: Depressing

      It's as bad as the American Patents Office.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No confirmation email?

      Systems like the UKs "ePetition" system require a confirmation e-mail to be actioned before the vote counts. Sure that can also be faked, but it would be much harder and somewhat easier to detect.

      1. Nick Kew Silver badge
        Holmes

        Re: No confirmation email?

        Much harder? Only for the plebs. The average Reg reader could surely script it within an hour.

        Somewhat easier to detect? OK, that's fairer: a few thousand email addresses @mydomain would look suspicious even with a Turing-worthy bot generating the messages. On the other hand, email addresses are cheap, and if you could substitute @gmail and @hotmail for @mydomain without triggering abuse takedowns from those services ...

        1. tekHedd

          Re: No confirmation email?

          "a few thousand email addresses @mydomain would look suspicious"

          A few thousand addresses @gmail wouldn't.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Bulk upload??

      "Why in the WORLD would you ever provide a bulk upload option for public comments? That's pretty much saying "please stack the deck"."

      Yup. That's why I point at the FCC for this farce.

      The FCC have the history of supporting anticompetitive behaviour, the desire (to implement their masters bidding), the fact the same ruse appears to have been used for both telco purposes AND cable company purposes and that the FCC's only desire is to kill any inquiries.

    4. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

      Re: Bulk upload??

      Paper petitions.

      The purpose of having a bulk upload feature was to allow for people to gather comments by hitting the sidewalks and getting people to make the comments on paper, then they'd transcribe them and upload them in a single go. This was typical back in the 1980s and early 1990s when the Internet was in its infancy and the FCC spent far more of its time regulating radio, television, and telephone.

      However, now that Internet access is so prolific that not having access is extremely rare. But this is the FCC, trying to get them to move on from 1950's type thinking is an exercise in futility...

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: Bulk upload??

        Which probably never should have been allowed back then.

        If anyone didn't care enough to write a letter to the FCC themselves, their opinion shouldn't count. Or at least it should count for a LOT more than someone who just signs their name to a petition saying "stop the FCC from doing X".

        Those old school paper petitions could be / could have been improved in two ways - one, allow people sending in public comments to the FCC or other governmental bodies do so for free without paying for a stamp (using a special zip code that's free to send letters to) and two, randomly choosing 1% of the people signing and sending them a letter at the listed address asking for confirmation that they signed the petition. If more than a certain threshold send in the free reply card saying "no, I did not sign that petition" then that entire bulk petition is considered to be fraudulent and ignored.

        The modern equivalent would to require bulk petition submissions include a home address for the person, which would be 1) checked against IRS records that the named person really lives there and 2) get the same kind of 1% snail mail verification. That would have shitcanned the bogus ballot stuffing activities around net neutrality which probably occurred on both sides. Though it is such a low bar to require someone visit the FCC and submit their own, allowing bulk submissions in this manner is just dumb.

      2. Jaybus

        Re: Bulk upload??

        "However, now that Internet access is so prolific that not having access is extremely rare."

        Definitely not the case. Yes, 80% of the population lives on 3% of the land mass where broadband access is ubiquitous, but a majority of the 20% living on the other 97% of the land mass have no access to broadband service and a good many have no service of any kind. When 30 million people have little if any access it certainly cannot be thought of as a rare occurrence.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

          Re: Bulk upload??

          What I meant was that its a rare occurrence for someone to have absolutely zero access access to the internet -and- have an opinion on the FCC's policies that they'd want to submit.

    5. david 12 Bronze badge

      Re: Bulk upload??

      Because, in the USA, restricting comment to only the channel provided by the government, and only after registering your identity, would, at first glance, seem to be an extraordinary exercise of government over-reach.

      1. Terry 6 Silver badge

        Re: Bulk upload??

        I need to understand this. Is the argument then that the people responsible for making the laws shouldn't be the ones who organise asking what the laws should be? Instead that job should be left to people who have vested interest and axes to grind?

      2. Crazy Operations Guy Silver badge

        Re: Bulk upload??

        You don't have to register to submit a comment to the FCC via the Internet, but you do have to submit some personally identifiable information along with it. Just like you need on a paper petition. You need to submit at least enough information that they can verify it is a legitimate comment, or at least that is the intended purpose.

  5. sbt Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Seems like a clear case of mail fraud

    It is an ongoing source of shame on the legal system that these sorts of non-financial crimes (but which still have tangibly harmful impacts on the populace) go un-punished. Still, they don't even prosecute the charlatans, fraudsters and snake-oil merchants of quackery, mentalism, etc., so I guess my expectations should be as low as Chairman Pai's ethics score.

    I wish folks could look beyond partisan politics around size-of-government, regulatory tightness and public vs. private funding questions and focus on the harm bad actors do, particularly to the levels of political engagement, levels of trust in institutions (both public and private) and hope in general.

    1. DontFeedTheTrolls Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: Seems like a clear case of mail fraud

      "focus on the harm bad actors do, particularly to the levels of political engagement, levels of trust in institutions (both public and private)"

      HEAR, HEAR!

      Any bad actor for any side is a problem. Even if a door created for good is open to anyone then anyone can be a bad actor. While the alleged abuse by the EFF may have been proven false, it is entirely possible that a freedom organisation undertook similar tactics to the lobbyists and some of the anti-NN comments were fake (I'm making no allegation, just pointing out that if the opportunity exists).

      And if you agree to the above premise that back doors created for good can be exploited for evil, this should be a HELLO wake up call moment to proposed government back doors in encryption!

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Seems like a clear case of wire fraud

      So...two questions:

      1. Who paid LCX Digital to submit those comments

      2. Why are they not being prosecuted, or at least investigated?

      Citizens United was a terrible decision. Corporations should not have the same rights as natural people.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seems like a clear case of wire fraud

        "2. Why are they not being prosecuted, or at least investigated?"

        From the article:

        "Despite the New York Attorney General's office announcing an investigation into the misuse of his state's citizens' identities, the federal regulator that solicited and received the fake comments, the FCC, has persistently refused to look into the issue, and has even blocked others' efforts."

        (there are links to sources to back this up in the original)

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Seems like a clear case of wire fraud

        Citizens United? Come on, I know it's out of fashion to acknowledge anything that happened before your generation started using Faecebook, but that doesn't mean it's a bad idea to know your history if you're going to comment on politics. The actual decision in the US that conflated corporations and people was Santa Clara County vs Southern Pacific, and it was handed down in 1886. Had that case been decided differently, Citizens United (and much else) would have been either moot or unrecognisably different.

        1. Mike 16 Silver badge

          Re: Citizens United and Southern Pacific

          If you dig a little deeper, you see that the sentence about how corporations are people and thus deserving of the rights normally accorded to a person was not part of the original decision, but was added by a clerk "cleaning up" for publication. Sort of like how "some staffer" made a 'typo fix" that resulted in the legal definition of "work for hire" changing from defaulting to the performer owning the copyright to the publisher owning it, in the absence of explicit wording in the contract. Thus effectively changing the terms of many contracts after they had been signed.

          But of course these sort of "mistakes" would not have gotten through the courts and congress if they did not have support among the folks best placed to whisper in judicial or legislative ears.

    3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Seems like a clear case of mail fraud

      Oh yes, it's definitely fraud. Millions of counts of wilful identity fraud at the very least. Also, what appears to be good evidence of three perpetrators, Broadband for America, Media Bridge and LCX Digital. All perpetrated directly against the US Government. You'd think the Justice Dept. would be all over this.

  6. big_D Silver badge

    Crime?

    Isn't identity theft a crime? Doing it on that scale, the directors of these companies and the lobby group should never see daylight again...

    1. TonyJ Silver badge

      Re: Crime?

      "...Isn't identity theft a crime? Doing it on that scale, the directors of these companies and the lobby group should never see daylight again....."#

      Only for the peons. The higher echelons get bonuses.

  7. Blofeld's Cat
    Devil

    Hmm ...

    "LCX ... claiming that every one of the comments had been made by real people."

    These "real people" would presumably be the employees who started the "make comments" app running.

  8. julian.smith

    America = a cesspit

    How are things in Trumpland's Swamp today?

    LMAO

    1. Blank Reg

      Re: America = a cesspit

      Well he said he'd drain the swamp. And when you drain the swamp you see all the leaches, worms and other disgusting creeepy crawly things that were living at the bottom. Then he appointed them all to cabinet positions.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: America = a cesspit

      Thats a great comment, you're right I'm gonna move to London! Screw the US! Oh right wait wasn't the internet supposed to get shut down if the FCC repealed Net Neutrality? Wasn't Google and Facebook in favor of NN? (as well as every other major tech company) Still waiting on all those nasty ISP's to lock down my access...... Maybe, just maybe you all took the bait in supporting NN. Lets try some critical thinking for a minute, a skill required in IT.

      1. R3sistance

        Re: America = a cesspit

        Actually it's because the repeal of NN was essentially blocked and reversed using the congressional review act meaning so you never saw the loss of NN. Now most the states have enacted their own NN laws which the FCC would like to imagine it can repeal but the courts do not appear to agree. So you'll never see NN disappear because even if the FCC removed it from federal level now, it'll remain at state level in almost every stated.

        So.... maybe just maybe, some critical thinking is a skill you shouldn't be preaching because you clearly didn't do your research.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: America = a cesspit

        "wasn't the internet supposed to get shut down if the FCC repealed Net Neutrality (NN)?"

        No - NN was a largely irrelevant sideshow. While it affected some of the better off areas of the US that already had above average Internet connections and usually competition between suppliers, it was about keeping a few of the newer telco's/content provisders in their place. If NN passed, the Comcast's/Netflix and their ilk were allowed to play with the big boys on an even playing field where both sides would be encouraged to invest to improve the Internet. If it was repealed, they would struggle. Since then, the market has moved on - the concerns about content providers struggling to match competitors due to uncompetitive behaviour has been replaced by consolidation allowing competitors to engage in uncompetitive behaviour....

        As for the real issues with Internet provision, lack of competition or outright uncompetitive practices/state-sponsored monopolies - they remain with no real end in sight except where new entrants come in and shake up the market.

      3. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Re: America = a cesspit

        I wouldn't bother moving to London. It's just as much a cesspit here as Trumpland these days.

  9. AIBailey Silver badge

    Corruption

    The stench of corruption around the whole of the US government at the moment is breathtaking.

    It's the kind of thing you'd expect to read about a dictatorship in a third world country. Is the US aspiring to be the next Nigeria*? They might even be setting their sights as high as China, or North Korea.

    Shameful.

    * - Other corrupt (former) dictator-led nations are also available.

    1. katrinab Silver badge
      Trollface

      Re: Corruption

      Like:

      United Kingdom

      Northern Ireland

      London Borough of Lambeth

      1. Someone Else Silver badge

        Re: Corruption

        No, more like:

        Brazil

        Paraguay

        The Philippines

        And, of course, everybody's favorite Banana Repbulic, Panama1

        1 At least, historically...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Corruption

      "The stench of corruption around the whole of the US government at the moment is breathtaking."

      Be careful extrapolating the FCC's behaviour to the current regime - they have been doing similar things under the last three regimes.

      Trump disappearing from the White House won't address the telco or cable company greed and as their attack dog, the FCC see very little motive to change that.

  10. Crisp Silver badge

    It's gone a bit beyond fake comments when you're doing it for gain

    It seems like it's just fraud on a massive scale.

    1. A.P. Veening Silver badge

      Re: It's gone a bit beyond fake comments when you're doing it for gain

      It seems like it's just fraud on a massive scale.

      FTFY ;)

  11. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Devil

    "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

    Simple solution : take the CEOs of these companies out behind the chemical shed and shoot them. As a lesson to the others.

    It's a good thing I'm not World Dictator In Chief.

    1. Alistair Silver badge
      Windows

      Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

      @Pascal:

      You are far too nice to the CEOs in this case, especially when one has a chemical shed handy.

      (you'n me both)

    2. Blank Reg

      Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

      Actually a benevolent dictatorship can be the best form of government. Unfortunately, the people that would be good at it are not usually interested in the job, instead, we get the worst dregs of humanity

      1. ThatOne Silver badge

        Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

        > a benevolent dictatorship

        Sorry, but along with the honest crook, the altruistic opportunist and the empathic bully, the "benevolent dictator" is an absurd theoretical construct. Even if it came to exist, it would have a shockingly short half-life: Everybody knows that power corrupts, so even if said dictator started as benevolent, he won't stay so for long.

        And if he's really unfailingly benevolent, he will step down to protect the nation from himself and any unfortunate adventures his own vagaries might throw his country into (historic examples abound). So please don't dream about a reassuring father figure which will tell you what to do and think; You're better off doing so yourself.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          @ThatOne - Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

          Are you sure ? Speaking about historic examples, I believe China is quite close to a fully functional benevolent dictatorship. However I agree with you that you have 50% chance to get a baddie ruling the country with an iron fist as in banana republics. China had it with Mao but this time they're lucky.

          1. jmch Silver badge
            Facepalm

            Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

            "a fully functional benevolent dictatorship"

            Yeah, but what about those who don't want to be dictated to? They quickly find out that the dictator is not so benevolent after all. And if a dictator is only benevolent to those who do exactly as they say... well that's just your bog-standard tyrant isn't it?

            1. Someone Else Silver badge

              Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

              Yeah, but what about those who don't want to be dictated to? They quickly find out that the dictator is not so benevolent after all. And if a dictator is only benevolent to those who do exactly as they say... well that's just your bog-standard tyrant isn't it?

              Read: Hong Kong

          2. A.P. Veening Silver badge

            Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

            I'll give you one historic sample: Fabius Maximus Cunctator. He was a rather reluctant dictator (the title had to be forced upon him the second time) and he stepped down as soon as possible. He also saved Rome.

            1. ThatOne Silver badge

              Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

              > I'll give you one historic sample: Fabius Maximus Cunctator.

              Well, a roman "dictator" isn't really the same as a modern dictator. In ancient Rome this was a normal and planned state of the roman government in case of a major crisis (like Hannibal closing in on you in this case), et included limitations in power and scope, not to mention a dictator couldn't stay in office longer than half a year. So yes, they did step down, all of them, because that's what a roman "dictator" did when he had finished his appointed mission.

              Not at all comparable with the all-powerful and person-based, sometimes even hereditary dictatorships of modern times. Sorry, can't accept that as an example of a "benevolent dictator" in the spirit of the OP.

          3. sbt Silver badge
            Flame

            In the words of the great John McEnroe

            China is quite close to a fully functional benevolent dictatorship

            You cannot be serious!

            In case you are, may I respectfully draw your attention to:

            • The failure to honour "two systems" for Hong Kong;
            • Sabre rattling over Taiwan;
            • Tibet;
            • The Uighan genocide, sorry "re-education";
            • The ongoing censorship and re-writing of history, e.g. of the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989;
            • The failure to protect worker's rights in industry from exploitation and abuse;
            • Environmental destruction and pollution on an epic scale;
            • Systemic and entrenched corruption by CCP cadres;
            • Blatant disrespect and defiance of international norms, treaties and court rulings, e.g. territorial claims in the South China Sea.
            Shall I go on? A really benevolent government is not afraid of alternative parties, a free press or free elections. Note my beef is with the CCP and its DFL, not the Chinese people.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: In the words of the great John McEnroe

              Come on, you could attribute virtually every one of those to any major western power as well in varying forms and scale. The west used to be a bit more subtle about it than China, but in recent decades that veil has well and truly lifted and they barely try and hide it anymore, especially from the corporate side, because there's no consequences. They're are enviously watching China's ability to control populations and aspire to take us in a similar direction, especially something like the Social Credit system.

              The failure to honour "two systems" for Hong Kong;

              - Palestine/Israel

              - Indonesia/Papua

              Sabre rattling over Taiwan;

              - almost every country in the world that disagrees. Iran/Russia/China/Venuzuela being current 'favourites'

              Tibet;

              - Iraq, Lybia, Syria

              - 130 odd other military bases around the world. e.g. Chagos Islands

              The Uighan genocide, sorry "re-education";

              - Native Americans

              - Quantanamo and other 'black sites' for 're-education'

              - Opioid epidemic

              The ongoing censorship and re-writing of history, e.g. of the massacre in Tiananmen Square in 1989;

              - Look at virtually any US made movie with any historical content carefully massaged with CIA 'co-operation'. And that is about as deep as history gets for the majority of people.

              - Israel's re-take on local history

              - any western victor's take on history of conflict

              The failure to protect worker's rights in industry from exploitation and abuse;

              - Amazon/Google

              - Hollywood

              - an on...those are only the high profiles ones I can immediately think of...

              Environmental destruction and pollution on an epic scale;

              - look at any coal or other mining//fracking/oil/chemical site. Supporting other poor countries bad practices in environmental protection.

              Systemic and entrenched corruption by CCP cadres;

              - substitute CCP for most politicians, lobby groups and major corporate's from FIRE/Pharma, the Fed, WTO/IMF etc

              Blatant disrespect and defiance of international norms, treaties and court rulings, e.g. territorial claims in the South China Sea

              - US exiting the Iran nuclear deal and INF treaty, vetoing anything against Israel in the UN, ignoring UN mandates at will, Chagos Islands etc etc, refusing to join the ICJ, Climate Change Accord...an on

              1. sbt Silver badge
                Holmes

                "you could attribute virtually every one of those to any major western power"

                Of course you could. But that's "whataboutism". It does not move the CCP or its dictator Xi Jinping one inch closer to being benevolent, the point I was disputing.

                The fact that there are democracies that are flawed is not in question. The embarrassing part is we citizens of so-called free nations bear more responsibility for the conduct of the governments we elect than the oppressed citizens of dictatorships do. We only have to vote to make a change; they need to rise up.

          4. Someone Else Silver badge
            FAIL

            Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

            Rule:

            If you have a 50/50 chance of choosing the Right Thing, you will choose the Wrong Thing 90% of the time.

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

            "Speaking about historic examples, I believe China is quite close to a fully functional benevolent dictatorship."

            The millions that have died from either political decisions or the Chinese justice system might beg to differ. If you disagree with the CCP, you tend to disappear and, if lucky, are tortured. The less fortunate are killed. We only get to see high profile people or large communities affected by these actions because the media coverage and journalism in China is so tightly controlled.

            What you currently see in Hong Kong is China wanting to act like China but trying to stay within the rules set by the International community. At some point, the mask will drop as Jinping loses patience with Hong Kong ruining Chinas 70th anniversary party.

            Ref: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2018/09/china-up-to-one-million-detained/

            Ref: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/mar/17/chinese-journalist-disappears-fly-beijing-hong-kong

            Ref: https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/07/20/china-widow-nobel-laureate-feared-disappeared

          6. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: @ThatOne - "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

            We need an Internet law that forces you to tell us whether you're Chinese when posting nonsense like this.

            There is absolutely nothing benevolent about China or its government. Nothing. Every dictator in modern (and almost certainly ancient as well) Chinese history has been responsible for thousands or millions of deaths, systematic oppression based on ethnicity, religion, ideology, and nearly any other factor that serves his purpose, an arbitrary puppet judiciary, and widespread and persistent official corruption. Mr Xi has the blood of Uighurs and Hong Kongers on his hands, innocent Canadians in arbitrary detention as a favour to a petty-minded business associate, and those are just the obvious things we read in the newspapers. It's sad that the culture that pioneered some of the concepts of fair and honest government has regressed to nothing more than systematic thuggery while so much of the world has adopted and improved upon the original Chinese ideas.

        2. Blank Reg

          Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

          I realize that such a person as could pull this off would be exceedingly rare and it would almost certainly fall into a typical dictatorship after they are gone. But it has nothing to do with needing a reassuring father figure, it's about being able to do what needs to be done regardless of what the lobbyists, corporations and even the general populace wants.

          Instead we get politicians pandering to the masses in order to get elected, and particularly in the US big donors in order to get enough money to even run for election.

          1. ThatOne Silver badge

            Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

            > I realize that such a person as could pull this off would be exceedingly rare [...] it's about being able to do what needs to be done

            Sorry, but are you saying that the only way to get things done is to expect/hope that an admittedly "exceedingly rare" occurrence might happen when you need it? In this case praying might help just as well...

            I admit there is an, as you say "exceedingly rare" chance for such a person to exist, but that would happen at best once in a century. You can't make politics on such a messianic expectation, this is the stuff of dreams, not reality.

            Last but not least, even if that wise, benevolent and intelligent person did exist, no chance you would get him to be your dictator: The people who would compete for that position would be all the selfish, opportunistic, self-serving crooks you already have in the political arena, so better keep their powers stunted, thank you very much.

        3. Terry 6 Silver badge

          Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

          There's a contradiction with the idea of benevolent dictatorship. Once the public start to disagree ( rightly or wrongly) they glove has to come off - otherwise the dictator isn't dictating anymore.

    3. ThatOne Silver badge
      Devil

      Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

      > take the CEOs of these companies out behind the chemical shed and shoot them

      Are you kidding? Why do you think Justice is always represented with a blindfold?... They are all members of the same old boy network, they all used to get drunk together in [insert prestigious university name], they definitely won't hurt their old buddies. They'll scratch their back, and get their own back scratched in return later on, that's how things work.

      Justice is only for the people without money and influence.

    4. Mr Sceptical
      Devil

      Re: "Media Bridge, based in Virginia, and LCX Digital, based in California"

      I salute your attitude on this, but surely the appropriate lesson to others would be by locking them in a soudnproof glass box (so everyone can see) and playing them an endless loop of Trump monologues until they tear their own head off to end it all?

      Then have the remains devoured by thousands of bugs, Halloween style...

      Failing that, then death by chemical waste, a la Robocop (80s version) sounds perfectly reasonable...

      Upvotes all round on this one!

  12. THMONSTER

    Could this be mail/wire fraud which, I believe, is a federal crime in the USA?

    These people do it because there are no consequences for their actions because those who stand to make money from this make sure there are no consequences to their actions.

    1. scepticat

      As John Harington put it, "Treason doth never prosper: what's the reason? Why, if it prosper, none dare call it treason."

  13. oiseau Silver badge
    FAIL

    Bloody obvious

    Why doesn't an organization like the FCC already have such systems in place? The answer is ...

    Bloody obvious.

    It happens that there's absolutely gargantuan shitloads of money to be made by the people who have Ajit Pai and his cronies sitting comfortably inside their pockets by blocking net neutrality.

    These are the same people who also contribute generously (very) to the cause, be it with money, PACs or support through their network controlled news outlets.

    To all of them it is only a win-win scenario.

    It is indeed quite depressing and I give kudos to BuzzFeed for doing their very best to uncover this but we live in times where in the U.S. a sitting president can name absolute idiots for posts requiring people with proper qualifications, routinely use his office to drum up business for his companies and has a marked tendency to lie through his teeth while his party, a good part of Congress and millions of his voters choose to look the other way ...

    ¿What makes anyone think this can/will ever get fixed?

    O.

  14. Snowy Silver badge
    Flame

    Forget the left and right

    It all about the money and control of the money!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Snowy - Re: Forget the left and right

      And money usually flows mostly to the right.

  15. Someone Else Silver badge

    LCX denied the connection between their filed comments and the hacked database, claiming that every one of the comments had been made by real people. Although it failed to say how it gathered those responses, or explain how dead people were able to access a system that doesn't appear to exist to send their comments, or explain why people listed as supporting the abolition of net neutrality rules have since said publicly that they did not send the comment and actually believe the opposite.

    Welcome to the era of Doublespeak, where up is down, war is peace, we've always been at war with Eastasia, and ignorance is Donald Trump.

  16. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge

    identity theft

    I would charge lcx with identity theft. Possibly slander for those whose names were used to indicate they support a position they oppose. I know I would feel slandered if one falsely claimed to the fcc I opposed network neutrality.

  17. Winkypop Silver badge
    Windows

    Stench of corruption

    In Trump's America: SNAFU

  18. DerekCurrie Bronze badge
    Devil

    Corporatocracy again, thanks to proven LIAR Ajit Pai...

    ...Who knew the astroturfed 'positive' kill-net-neutrality feedback was FRAUD, I'm easily willing to bet. So much for "We The People" being in charge of our own government. FRAUD abuses the citizenry and benefits crooks.

    If you can't win... CHEAT! <-- The con-job politician's motto. In this case, the con-job was perpetrated by irrational-right Republican corporate puppets.

    Cut Their Strings!

    Restore Real Net Neutrality NOW!

  19. TheSmokingArgus

    STATE enforced Net Neutrality is to free & open internet as PATRIOT Act is to Patriotism

    STATE enforced Net Neutrality is to free & open internet as PATRIOT Act is to Patriotism. One does not best Marxists by implementing their stated policy goals:

    "Centralization of the means of communication in the hands of the STATE."

    Plank Six

    Communist Manifesto ca. 1848

    Twentieth-Century FCC licensure of old-media created and fostered consolidation unto STATE's favored corporations raising barriers to entry and locking out competition.

    1776> 1984.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "How many counts of identity theft!"

    Would exclaim the judge, if it was ever to get to a court.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Someone, somewhere ought to be doing jail time.

    Mr Pai, anyone?

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