Wheeler / Sohn FCC Knew Their Net Neutrality Comments Were Unverifiable, Yet Still Counted Them All to “Prove” Their Case

by Mike Wendy on September 5, 2017

There’s a lot of freaking-out going on in the pro-Net Neutrality camp due to a study released last week by Broadband for America, which concluded, among other things, that “69.9% of [Restoring Internet Freedom] comments are in favor of repealing Title II once accounting for fake and unverifiable international comments.”

The Net-Neuties think they smell “a conspiracy” to undermine the “heroic” efforts of Fight for the Future to stuff the ballot box with millions of (unverifiable) Net Neutrality comments. In this regard, ex-FCC special counsel, now Soros worker-bee, Gigi Sohn, has been particularly vocal about the purported delegitimization of the FftF comments. Wired uncritically (because the mag is for Net Neutrality, too) gives voice to her concerns, writing:

Critics argue that the FCC should have done more to prevent spamming in the first place. Sohn points out that the FCC knew a tidal wave of comments would ensue once it began the net neutrality proceedings, but the agency’s information technology department didn’t add new features, such as some sort of authentication system, to reduce spamming. Sohn and other critics suspect that stems from a lack of interest in the public comment system on Pai’s part.

The article continues, noting:

The breakdown of the public commenting system could give the FCC and the broadband industry grounds to claim that the public actually supports repealing Title II. But the problems with the system could also be used against the FCC if it’s forced to defend its decision to reverse Title II in court, Sohn says. The FCC’s failure to ensure the legitimacy of that public comment system could be a violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, which requires federal agencies to allow for public participation in regulatory decisions.

Funny, that same concern for “authentication” / quest for “legitimacy” wasn’t there when Gigi and FftF rounded up “4 million” comments “in support” of Net Neutrality in the previous Order.

Should it have been? Well, heck yes.

FOIA’d records show that on the very day the Internet Slowdown was occurring, and hundreds-of-thousands of comments were pouring into the Commission “for” Net Neutrality, Chairman Tom Wheeler remarked to his top top-brass (Gigi Sohn included), “Interesting that this new round of emails is designed to hide the person’s name. Thus, we don’t know if they’re real or not. Can we accept unsigned material into the record? (Emphasis added)

The reply to his query tersely notes that the Office of General Counsel confirms “anonymous comments are a part of the public record.” (Emphasis added)

“Real” comments? Sure, they lard the Open Internet Order.

There’s nothing about verifying anything. 223 pages of FOIA’d documents never even mention the words “verify the comments.” Because it was understood it could not be (especially for this PR stunt). If the agency did, that would make the “ballot” look questionable (at best).

Subsequent news reports reveal that the agency was willfully blind to the problem. In other words, it knew significant numbers of the comments were bogus, yet the Majority Commissioners still clung to / spun the notion that the “ballot” was “real,” thus “proving” that American’s want Net Neutrality. (We don’t have to look to the Russians for collusion, eh?)

Bottom line to all this is that the Wheeler / Sohn FCC was concerned only that the “vote count” looked big as it could. Yes, dupes were stripped, but that’s about it. The unverified / anonymous stuff, well, not so much.

Why? Because it would delegitimize their tally….

..and the already specious idea known as Net neutrality.

Gigi Sohn – winner of the pot calling the kettle black award.

More to come…

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