Latest in Gear

Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images

FCC ordered to provide IP addresses tied to fake net neutrality comments

It will have to provide data that might reveal evidence of corruption.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
May 3, 2020
2564 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 14:  Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai drinks from a big coffee cup during a commission meeting December 14, 2017 in Washington, DC. The FCC is scheduled to vote on a proposal to repeal net-neutrality.  (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

The FCC might not have much choice but to hand over data logs for fake net neutrality comments. A federal judge has ordered (via Gizmodo) the regulator to turn over server records to New York Times reporters that would reveal the IP addresses behind bogus comments supporting the net neutrality repeal. The FCC had contended that divulging the IP addresses would represent an “unwarranted invasion of personal privacy,” but Judge Lorna Schofield said the agency didn’t really explain how anyone would be hurt by transferring the data.

The judge argued that the benefits clearly outweighed the drawbacks, as fake comments threatened the very nature of the public input system. The “notice-and-comment process has failed” if there are more fraudulent comments than real ones,” Schofield said.

The NYT reporters filed a Freedom of Information Request for the data after the FCC refused to show logs. In theory, they’ll show both the extent of fake commenting and help trace it back to groups that may have been involved. Investigations have suggested that over half of the comments are fake, and some of the comments appear linked to dark money groups determined to skew the political discussion.

The FCC hasn’t commented on the decision. However, it has a long history of fighting attempts to address the flawed net neutrality commenting process. In addition to trying to block log requests, it insisted its comment system had fallen prey to a cyberattack only to admit the attack never happened. It even rejected city governments’ requests in recent weeks to extend a commenting window. It won’t be surprising if the FCC contests this court ruling in a last-ditch bid to keep the comments’ origins a secret.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
2564 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

Weber’s SmokeFire smart grills just got a lot better

Weber’s SmokeFire smart grills just got a lot better

View
Atmospheric CO2 hits a record high while emissions drop

Atmospheric CO2 hits a record high while emissions drop

View
Our readers find Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers a crushing disappointment

Our readers find Nintendo’s Joy-Con controllers a crushing disappointment

View
EA Access to hit Steam this summer after delay

EA Access to hit Steam this summer after delay

View
Instacart takes steps to discourage 'tip baiting'

Instacart takes steps to discourage 'tip baiting'

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr