A new analysis by the National Legal and Policy Center (NLPC) shows that the number of fake pro-net neutrality comments posted in the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) docket between July 17th and August 4th was more than 5.8 million.
The FCC continues to be flooded with comments from various fake email domains and U.S. address generator programs found online. In many cases, the same comments are submitted dozens or even hundreds of times by filers using the same name, but coming from various phony email and physical U.S. addresses.
While the data file of the 5.8 million is too large to put online, NLPC has uploaded 6 CSV files containing 1.5 million comments downloaded through the FCC’s public API between July 17 and 25. NLPC invites journalists and researchers to examine, download and manipulate the data if they would like to conduct their own analysis.
Click here for a Dropbox folder containing the data.
NLPC’s previous three analyses uncovered millions of comments coming from fake addresses in the U.S., France, Russia and Germany while the most recent filings appear to come almost exclusively from fake addresses and emails in the U.S. Among the most recent findings:
*All of the fake comments submitted between July 17th and July August 4th, come from one of 10 email domains associated with a fake email generator program found at http://www.fakemailgenerator.com.
*The 10 fake email domains used to submit the comments include armyspy.com, cuvox.de, dayrep.com, einrot.com, fleckens.hu, gustr.com, jourrapide.com, rhyta.com, superrito.com, and teleworm.us.
*They all use the same language: “I am in favor of strong net neutrality under Title II of the Telecommunications Act. Sincerely,”
*The addresses listed in the comments appear to be U.S. addresses, but almost all of them are invalid, in many cases including valid U.S. street addresses that don’t match the cities, states or zip codes listed.
*A spot check of several of the 1.5 million of the comments filed between July 17th and August 4th showed that every address checked was invalid. Based on the analysis, NLPC believes that 95% or more of the comment addresses are using a fake address.
“As we have uncovered in our previous analyses, the gaming of the comment submission process has gotten out of hand,” said NLPC President Peter Flaherty. “With almost 6 million comments in the docket now appearing to be fake, we have decided to make the data we uncovered publicly available in order for researchers and analysts to explore the data and develop their own insights.”
“Since July 17th, the number of comments in the docket exploded, but we believe almost 6 million comments are bogus. As we reported during the July 12 Day of Action, while pro-net neutrality supporters claimed that they had generated more than 2 million comments into the FCC’s docket, we also found a good number of comments, coming from fake email domains such as Pornhub.com, and foreign domains in Russia, France and Germany,” said Flaherty. “The deception has not ebbed, and in fact appears to be growing.”
NLPC calls on Congress to conduct a full investigation, not only of obviously fake comments submitted by anti-net neutrality supporters, but also of the millions of fake comments submitted by pro-net neutrality advocates. “Someone or some group is making a complete mockery of our public rulemaking process,” said Flaherty. “Since Congress continues to turn a blind eye to the gaming of the rulemaking process, we’re putting the data online ourselves so Americans can see for themselves just how pervasive the fake comment problem has become.”
The FCC has received nearly 18 million comments on the net neutrality issue. NLPC has exposed and chronicled the debasement of the FCC public comment process with previous analyses released on May 31, June 7 and July 17.