Hard to Take New York AG Schneiderman Seriously on Net Neutrality Probe

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is holding a press conference at 1 P.M. today regarding the public comment process of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on net neutrality.

If his past comments and actions are any guide, he will use the occasion to criticize FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and the Commission’s plans to overturn the Obama-era net neutrality rules. According to Schneiderman, “For my part, I have long publicly advocated for strong net neutrality rules under the Title II of the Communications Act…”

We have conducted four separate forensic studies of the public comments, and we have found massive fraud. We do not have a position on net neutrality. We welcome an investigation into who is responsible for the fraud we exposed, but that investigation must be credible.

Schneiderman is hardly credible. He is a screaming partisan. It is hard to take him seriously. He would have you believe that only anti-net neutrality messages were fraudulent, when in fact we found that millions, and perhaps a majority, of the pro-net neutrality comments were counterfeit. It is obvious that there were fake filings on both sides.

Schniederman has made no public reference to our findings, which received significant media coverage, nor has he contacted our staff about our analyses.

The fraud that characterized the public comment process is a serious matter. As late as two weeks ago, FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn was still citing the discredited 22 million public comment figure. We need an independent investigation by appropriate authorities, like the General Accounting Office, not a fake investigation by a headline-seeking Attorney General from New York.

To recap our analyses:

On May 31, we released our first report showing that of the 2.5 million “pro” comments filed up until just before that date, one-fifth were fake. The comments came from email addresses not associated with the sender and some email addresses were used to file multiple comments.

More than 100,000 examples of identical comments used language from an Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) form letter campaign in which the email addresses were generated from a fake email generator program. The submissions also included fake physical addresses and names.

On June 7 and July 17, we released a new analysis showing that 1.3 million comments came from foreign countries, including Russia. One Russian email address alone accounted for 325,528 comments!

Finally, for the home stretch of the public comment period, we released our fourth analysis on August 8. For the period July 17 to August 4, we were astounded to identify 5.8 million fake comments, generated from one of only 10 domains, all associated with a fake email generator. We even put 1.5 million of them online, so journalists and researchers could experience the counterfeits themselves.

UPDATE 1:35PM: Schneiderman, accompanied by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, just finished his press conference. He finally conceded that fakes had been submitted on both sides, and that a federal investigation is needed. He did not address the question he raised, namely why his involvement is appropriate or needed.

Both Schneiderman and Rosenworcel were candid about their real agenda. They both called for the FCC to delay the vote on net neutrality.