State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called on the FCC to halt its vote to repeal net neutrality protections until it resolves the ongoing issue over phony, illegal comments made to the agency.
Schneiderman and FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel urged the agency’s chair, Ajit Pai, to fully cooperate with the state’s investigation of more than one million comments that were made nationwide during the public discussion.
Although Schneiderman said he has received more than 3,200 complaints, including 350 in New York, from those who say comments were made in their or a relative’s name without their consent, the FCC is refusing to provide any records or data to help with the investigation. The AG said a man in Albany even reported that his dead mother made a comment.
“We are hoping they can delay the vote so we can get to the bottom of this,” he said in a news conference.
Pai said the FCC will vote on Dec. 14 to repeal the 2015 regulations it put in place that require internet Service Providers, or ISPs, to offer equal access to all users. While Pai contends the regulations were hurting ISPs, opponents say it crucially prevented them from imposing restrictive measures such as speed throttling or content preference.
Rosenworcel said the public comment procedure is important to the agency’s process, and it should not make any decision without a guarantee that the responses are genuine.
“The integrity of the public record is at stake,” she said.
Twenty-eight U.S. senators, including Charles Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand, also sent a letter to Pai Monday urging him to postpone the vote in light of the investigation.
A representative for the FCC said the attorney general’s investigation isn’t warranted.
“This is an attempt by people who want to keep the Obama Administration’s heavy-handed internet regulations to delay the vote because they realize that their effort to defeat the plan to restore internet freedom has stalled,” he said in a statement.
The FCC’s inspector general told Schneiderman Monday it would be assisting his office, but the attorney general said the agency needed to go farther.
“The FCC needs to help with state investigations. There needs to be federal investigation,” he said.