A bot is spreading anti-net neutrality rhetoric, and it’s perfectly timed with the latest plea from John Oliver.
A bot has effectively taken over the FCC’s comment system and it’s repeatedly spouting anti-net neutrality prose, each time under a different name.
These comments don’t appear to be in response to John Oliver’s segment on Last Week Tonight, in which he asked fellow viewers to leave a comment in favor of net neutrality on the FCC’s public board. According to ZDNet, the identical comments began populating right after FCC chairman Ajit Pai announced the agency’s plans to repeal Title II. The comments say:
“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.”
The bot appears to cycle through names in alphabetical order with postal address in tow and it’s suspected that the names and addresses were grabbed from public voter registration records or an older data breach. ZDNet also contacted some of the names behind the entries and discovered that they had no idea they had left a comment for the FCC:
We reached out to two-dozen people by phone, and we left voicemails when nobody picked up. A couple of people late Tuesday called back and confirmed that they had not left any messages on the FCC’s website. One of the returning callers specifically said they didn’t know what net neutrality was. A third person reached in a Facebook message Tuesday also confirmed that they had not left any comments on any website.
There’s no word on who is behind the bot or whether it’s an organization, though ZDNet notes that the bot’s comments stem from a 2010 press release by the Center for Individual Freedom, which is notably against net neutrality.
The FCC, for its part, claims that the mass of repeating anti-net neutrality comments are merely a result of a cyber attack brought on by the segment from Last Week Tonight.