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posted by martyb on Thursday May 11 2017, @09:30AM   Printer-friendly
from the duplicitous-comments dept.

A bot is thought to be behind the posting of thousands of messages to the FCC's website, in an apparent attempt to influence the results of a public solicitation for feedback on net neutrality.

Late last month, FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced his agency's plans to roll back an Obama-era framework for net neutrality, which rule that internet providers must treat all internet content equally.

Since then, the FCC's public comments system has been flooded with a barrage of comments -- well over half-a-million responses at the time of writing -- in part thanks to comedian John Oliver raising the issue on his weekly show on Sunday.

[...] But a sizable portion of those comments are fake, and are repeating the same manufactured response again and again:

[...] "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation," the comment says. "I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years."

NotSanguine called it! https://soylentnews.org/comments.pl?sid=19421&cid=506966

http://www.zdnet.com/article/a-bot-is-flooding-the-fccs-website-with-fake-anti-net-neutrality-comments/


Original Submission

Related Stories

John Oliver Leads Net Neutrality Defenders to Crash FCC Website. Again. 72 comments

Common Dreams reports

Last Week Tonight host John Oliver on [May 7] issued another powerful rallying cry to save net neutrality protections, and, repeating the outcome of his 2014 plea, his viewers flooded the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) site, causing it to temporarily crash.

[...] Oliver said it's worth noting that [FCC Chairman Ajit] Pai is "a former lawyer for Verizon", a company which "won a lawsuit which meant that if the FCC wanted strong, enforceable protection, its only real option was to reclassify the ISPs, and yet he cheerily insists under questioning that there is just not evidence that cable companies were engaging in rampant wrongdoing".

"Title II is the most solid legal foundation we have right now for a strong, enforceable net neutrality protections", Oliver said, and urged "we, the people, [to] take this matter into our own hands".

To that end, Last Week Tonight bought the domain name gofccyourself.com, which redirects users to the official FCC page[1] where open internet advocates can leave a comment and call for these protections to remain in place. (Oliver notes that it simplifies the commenting process the FCC "has made more difficult since three years ago".)

"Everyone needs to get involved. Comment now, and then maybe comment again when the FCC makes its proposal official. Even call you representative and your senators", Oliver urged.

So successful was the start of his campaign, according to Motherboard, that there was such a high volume of traffic flooding the Federal Communications Commission that the site temporarily went down. As of this writing, it is up and running again.

[1] The fcc.gov page is almost entirely behind scripts.


Original Submission

Politics: FCC Guards Eject Reporter 37 comments

John M. Donnelly, a senior writer at CQ Roll Call, said he was trying to talk with FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly one-on-one after a news conference when two plainclothes guards pinned him against a wall with the backs of their bodies.

Washington Post

“Not only did they get in between me and O’Rielly but they put their shoulders together and simultaneously backed me up into the wall and pinned me to the wall for about 10 seconds just as I started to say, “Commissioner O’Rielly, I have a question,” Donnelly said Friday.

Donnelly said he was stopped long enough to allow O’Rielly to walk away.

Los Angeles Times

Donnelly, who also happens to be chair of the National Press Club Press Freedom team, said he was then forced out of the building after being asked why he had not posed his question during the news conference.

O'Rielly apologized to Donnelly on Twitter, saying he didn't recognize Donnelly in the hallway. "I saw security put themselves between you, me and my staff. I didn't see anyone put a hand on you. I'm sorry this occurred."

Politico

According to the publication for which the reporter works (archived copy),

Senators, including Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley, are warning the Federal Communications Commission about its treatment of reporters after a CQ Roll Call reporter was manhandled Thursday.

“The Federal Communications Commission needs to take a hard look at why this happened and make sure it doesn’t happen again. As The Washington Post pointed out, it’s standard operating procedure for reporters to ask questions of public officials after meetings and news conferences,” the Iowa Republican said. “It happens all day, every day. There’s no good reason to put hands on a reporter who’s doing his or her job.”

FBI Investigating Public Comments on Net Neutrality Repeal 32 comments

Report: FBI opens criminal investigation into net neutrality comment fraud

The Federal Bureau of Investigation is investigating the use of stolen identities in public comments on the government's repeal of net neutrality rules, BuzzFeed News reported Saturday.

The investigation focuses on "whether crimes were committed when potentially millions of people's identities were posted to the FCC's website without their permission, falsely attributing to them opinions about net neutrality rules," the report said.

"Two organizations told BuzzFeed News, each on condition that they not be named, that the FBI delivered subpoenas to them related to the comments," BuzzFeed wrote.

The FBI subpoenas came a few days after similar subpoenas sent by NY AG Barbara Underwood in mid-October. Underwood "subpoenaed more than a dozen telecommunications trade groups, lobbying contractors, and Washington advocacy organizations," The New York Times reported in October.

Previously: John Oliver Leads Net Neutrality Defenders to Crash FCC Website. Again.
Bot Floods the FCC's Website with Anti-Net Neutrality Comments
FCC Officially Publishes Net Neutrality Repeal
U.S. Officially Repeals Net Neutrality Rules; FOIA Request Reveals Details of Bogus DDoS Attack
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Passes Blame Over Lying About Public Comment System Being DDoSed
99.7 Percent of Unique FCC Comments Favored Net Neutrality
Ajit Pai Admits Russia Interfered in Net Neutrality Process amid Lawsuit


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by NotSanguine on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:10AM (4 children)

    Thanks for the shout out, DeathMonkey. I did notice the inordinately large number of identical messages, which strongly implied some sort of automation (whether that be mass emails to supportive folks, a botnet, or some automated commenting process via the API).

    But Thexalon was the first to suggest it was a bot/botnet [soylentnews.org], so kudos should really go to (I was going to say him, but it could be her, or xe or many other pronouns. Need to be careful about that stuff. [uwm.edu]) that individual.

    Presumably the FCC could identify the IP address(es) used to post these bogus comments and see if even some of them originate from the locales listed in the comments. However, I'd be surprised if they bothered.

    If a few of the folks whose identities have been appropriated are sufficiently annoyed, I guess someone like the EFF could try to file a class-action suit to force the FCC to remove the fake comments.

    But I suspect what will happen is that the FCC will include those comments and blather on about how much support there is for stealing from the consumers. Drain the swamp, indeed. It's business as usual.

    --
    No, no, you're not thinking; you're just being logical. --Niels Bohr
    • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:22AM (2 children)

      by kaszz (4211) on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:22AM (#508019) Journal

      Let loose a counter bot then?

      • (Score: 2) by coolgopher on Thursday May 11 2017, @12:45PM

        by coolgopher (1157) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 11 2017, @12:45PM (#508053)

        Skynet approves of this idea.

      • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Thursday May 11 2017, @04:18PM

        by bob_super (1357) on Thursday May 11 2017, @04:18PM (#508156)

        Nope. They'll just point at the bots' messages, and their own reduced funding, and declare that they cannot process any comment, therefore the decision to kill NN stands.

    • (Score: 2) by Thexalon on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:34PM

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:34PM (#508201)

      For the record, I'm a male-type human, so use of "he/his/him" is perfectly correct. And I appreciate the shout-out.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by FakeBeldin on Thursday May 11 2017, @11:54AM (1 child)

    by FakeBeldin (3360) on Thursday May 11 2017, @11:54AM (#508037) Journal

    But a sizable portion of those comments are fake

    The fine article does not make any statements on how many of those identical comments are fake. But ZDNet reached out to 24 commenters. Only three of those reacted... but none of them had left a comment.
    That coupled with the alphabetic order in which the comments were (apparently) submitted, led ZDNet to suspect a bot.

    For me, that's enough due diligence to indeed warrant a suspicion of bot use.
    (of course, suspicions aren't facts - but without further investigation, I'm disinclined to accept these comments as originating from more than one person.)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:25PM (#508197)

      The fine article does not make any statements on how many of those identical comments are fake.

      Presumably all of them.

  • (Score: 5, Informative) by bzipitidoo on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:06PM

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:06PM (#508108) Journal

    One danger is that the FCC leadership will deliberately overlook the sources and use this to say public support for net neutrality is weak, because their corporate backers want net neutrality killed. That would be a classic Trump administration move.

    Seems it's only a question of when Trump finally goes too far, if he hasn't already with the timing and manner of Comey's firing. He's too much of an idiot to keep a majority of public opinion on his side. He may well be a puppet president already, doing as his masters in the corporate world and Russia direct so that he'll be allowed to remain POTUS a little longer, until they no longer can get any further use out of him. One thought is that the Republican Congress will throw him under the bus in a heartbeat as the 2018 midterms approach, if he looks like a political liability, which he very well may. If Congressional Republicans turn on him, he's toast. Wouldn't surprise me if a group of them has already had some articles of impeachment written up, and has them tucked away until they're wanted.

  • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:40PM (1 child)

    by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Thursday May 11 2017, @03:40PM (#508131) Journal

    Just because people want high prices and no competition doesn't mean it is bots.

    Just because all of the postings are the same identical comment doesn't mean it is bots.

    Just because all those people posted their comments in the exact alphabetical order of their names, does not mean it is bots.

    Even if some of these people are dead, does not mean it is bots and that dead people don't have opinions even if they differ from yours.

    (this message brought to you by the Telecom, ISP and Cable industries. I am Randall L. Stephenson and I approved this message)

    --
    I get constant rejection even though the compiler is supposed to accept constants.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12 2017, @08:47AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 12 2017, @08:47AM (#508549)

      The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation. I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:00PM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:00PM (#508187)

    I mean just look at the stupid obnoxious message and low brow spam tactics.

    But don't investigate Russia as the source, supremo Trump might fire you...

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:08PM (1 child)

      by Thexalon (636) on Thursday May 11 2017, @10:08PM (#508359)

      This gang didn't care whether Trump or Clinton won. Once it was down to those two, they knew that no matter who won they'd have a corporate-owned president with no real principles who would gladly do what they wanted for a quick buck.

      According to opensecrets [opensecrets.org], Comcast gave $1.8 million to Republicans, and $1.4 million to Democrats. AT&T dropped about $1.3 million on Democrats, and $2 million on Republicans. Including substantial direct support for Hillary Clinton in both cases, and she of course knows who's keeping her bread buttered.

      These guys don't have a political party. They just have politicians that they buy up. Had Hillary Clinton won, I'm quite certain she would have moved to gut the net neutrality rules as quickly as possible, because there's bipartisan consensus for it (i.e. the telecoms have bought up politicians on both sides of the aisle) and she would have wanted to maximize the time between negative headlines about it and her re-election campaign.

      Trump probably doesn't even have to be bought, of course: He would like to gut net neutrality rules so that he and his staff could have websites with inconvenient information on them slowed to the point of being inaccessible to ordinary citizens. Clinton was probably going to be more subtle about it, working with search engines and Facebook and the like to treat inconvenient information as "fake news" and thus not something the public should be able to easily find.

      --
      The only thing that stops a bad guy with a compiler is a good guy with a compiler.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13 2017, @01:36AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 13 2017, @01:36AM (#508939)

        Telecoms gave more to the democrats than the republicans in 2008/12. Obama still put a strong FCC chair in place.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:09PM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 11 2017, @05:09PM (#508191)

    Evil Trumpkins using technology to hold sway over the populace! But we must mindlessly follow along with whatever brainfart huffs out of John Oliver's faceanus!

    "You see comrade, unlike the capitalists, our astroturf is the real thing!"

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