The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has confirmed its belief that about 100,000 public comments that used the same language as EFF’s own pro-net neutrality campaign are counterfeit. The messages were filed with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) as part of the public comment process.
In an analysis released on May 31, the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) found that 465,322 pro-net neutrality comments, or nearly one-fifth of the total, appear to be bogus. Of the 465,322, we found:
Over 100,000 examples of identical comments used language from an Electronic Frontier Foundation letter desk campaign in which the email addresses were generated from a fake email generator program using as many as 10 different email domains. A check of hundreds of the 100,140 comments also revealed that the submissions included fake physical addresses and possibly even fake names.
Jeremy Gillula, a spokesman for EFF, was quoted in USA Today. “I have no idea where the comments NLPC is talking about came from,” he said. “It could be someone trying to make EFF look bad. It could be a misguided person who thought they should bulk up the comments on the pro-net neutrality side.”
In a post today on the EFF website, Gillula states:
We learned this Wednesday of a report [PDF] by the National Law (sic) and Policy Center (NLPC) that claimed EFF submitted over 100,000 fake comments to the FCC’s net neutrality docket, using fake names, email addresses, and physical addresses.
NLPC’s report is false. Not one name, email address, or email domain cited in the report matches to any of the comments that came through EFF’s comment tool.
We did not assert that EFF sent the messages or that they came through its website. As quoted above, we stated that the comments “used language from an Electronic Frontier Foundation letter desk campaign,” which Gillula has acknowledged is true.
In his post, Gillula confirms that EFF’s language was used but makes quite a lot out of his discovery that the EFF messages differ from the fakes in the font of one apostrophe. I must confess that the significance of this is lost on me.