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Paul Merrell

2 million people-and some dead ones-were impersonated in net neutrality comments | Ars ... - 0 views

  • An analysis of public comments on the FCC's plan to repeal net neutrality rules found that 2 million of them were filed using stolen identities. That's according to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. "Millions of fake comments have corrupted the FCC public process—including two million that stole the identities of real people, a crime under New York law," Schneiderman said in an announcement today. "Yet the FCC is moving full steam ahead with a vote based on this corrupted process, while refusing to cooperate with an investigation."
  • Some comments were submitted under the names of dead people. "My LATE husband's name was fraudulently used after a valiant battle with cancer," one person told the AG's office. "This unlawful act adds to my pain that someone would violate his good name." Schneiderman set up a website where people can search the FCC comments for their names to determine if they've been impersonated. So far, "over 5,000 people have filed reports with the Attorney General's office regarding identities used to submit fake comments," the AG's announcement said.
  • While the 5,000 reports provide anecdotal evidence, the AG's office performed an analysis of the 23 million public comments in order to figure out how many were submitted under falsely assumed identities. Many comments for and against net neutrality rules are identical because advocacy groups urged people to sign form letters, so the text of a comment alone isn't enough to determine if it was submitted by a real person. The AG's office thus examined comment text along with other factors, such as whether names matched lists of stolen identities from known data breaches. Schneiderman's office also told Ars that it looked into whether or not the submission of comments was in alphabetical order, one after another, in short time periods. In general, analysis of formatting and metadata played a role in the analysis. The number of comments believed to be fake has grown as the A.G.'s investigation continues, and it isn't done yet. Schneiderman's office is still analyzing the public comments. We asked Schneiderman's office how many of the fake comments supported net neutrality rules, and how many opposed them, but were told that the information was not available. While fake comments used names and addresses of people from across the nation, more than "100,000 comments per state" came "from New York, Florida, Texas, and California," Schneiderman's announcement said.
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