Skip to main content

The FCC's website has been bombarded by an anti-net neutrality bot

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.

Florence Ion was formerly an editor and columnist at Android Central. She writes about Android-powered devices of all types and explores their usefulness in her everyday life. You can follow her on Twitter or watch her Tuesday nights on All About Android.

21 Comments
  • Way to shift the blame FCC.
  • Good! Maybe they will get the point!
  • So no matter the result, whether it be a minor victory against net neutrality or a massive deluge of concerned citizens urging continued neutrality, the FCC can dismiss the results on grounds of contaminated results.
  • yup.
  • My god
  • i heard on the Vergecast that the FCC basically said their decision this time wasn't going be swayed either way by any public comments.
  • "The Center for Individual Freedom" really should rename itself to "The Center for Corporate Freedom" so as not to mislead the public about its goals.
  • I can be incorporated as an individual, so that's about the most assinine comment I've ever read.
  • I'd have to this is a win for whoever did it. Not only are they pestering the FCC but since the FCC called up people who had no idea what it was the conversation is spreading.
  • I hope this turns out good. I'm in favor of net neutrality.
  • ZDNet contacted the people not the FCC.
  • I noticed the same post over and over on there. I thought it was a bunch of Trolls, didn't realize it was a bot. Good research
  • I love how the FCC under the Trump administration is actually anti net-neutrality. But now the FCC will play the victim and act like it was always for net-neutrality.
  • Net neutrality was a scam from the get go. The government wanted to control the pipe. China and Cuba do this already!!
  • How did you arrive at your conclusion? China and Cuba limit and restrict specific sources of information from being accessed over the internet. Net neutrality is the opposite of that by preventing monopolistic pipe owners from blocking or interfering with sources of information and services on the internet for reasons of competitive advantage and consumer disadvantage.
  • OP sounds woefully uninformed, I wonder if the even know what net neutrality is actually about 🤔
  • What you describe is exactly what net neutrality would do. The government is using fear to coerce you into thinking otherwise. It's all about control
  • There is no legitimate reason why any two different websites or services should ever have their data treated differently. Corruption will be in full swing THE DAY AFTER title II would be repealed. It mustn't be allowed.
  • I wonder why the FCC is not using capcha to prevent bots from doing this.
  • good question...
    I wonder too
  • Probably because most capcha services are owned by pro-net-neutrality companies and the FCC under Trump most likely fired any good, competent programmers they had on staff that could develop their own capcha.