Ajit Pai Admits Russians Interfered in Net Neutrality Commenting Process
FCC Chair Ajit Pai admitted that Russian operatives were actively attempting to persuade the agency to repeal net neutrality. Pai said in a statement that it is a "fact" that a half-million comments were submitted from Russian email addresses during the public comment period, adding that most of those comments were in favor of repealing net neutrality. The FCC’s public comment process around net neutrality was mired in controversy in 2017, with lawmakers and companies on both sides of the issue arguing that a deluge of fake comments undermined the legitimacy of the process. Also, HBO’s John Oliver crashed the system when he encouraged his viewers to leave comments. Pai previously denied or negated the importance of fake comments during the FCC’s open commenting period. The FCC ultimately decided to repeal net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to give equal footing to all web traffic. This was despite an earlier account which found that nearly all of verified comments from actual citizens were in favor of preserving net neutrality. Pai’s admission comes as part of a broader lawsuit against the FCC by The New York Times and BuzzFeed, both of whom are seeking access to FCC documents under the Freedom of Information Act. The FCC pushed back on those requests, arguing that the release of sensitive internal documents could open the agency to security threats. More here.