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“Battle for the network”: in the US officials were suspected of winding up comments in support of the law on “Internet killing”

Bots with the names of deceased people have written hundreds of thousands of entries for the cancellation of network neutrality, which is protected by Google, Twitter and Reddit.

Attorney General of New York Eric Schneiderman. Photo by Drew Angerer, Getty Images

In the US, several months have been arguing about the possible abolition of the principle of network neutrality, which gives equal opportunities to all Internet resources. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and Internet service providers are in favor of changing the law, and against – ordinary US users with the support of large services and companies like Google, Twitter and Reddit.

Voting for the abolition of network neutrality will take place in December 2017: the media have already called a possible solution to the murder of the “free Internet” in the country. However, the investigation by the public prosecutor of New York showed that during public discussions positive comments about the bill left hundreds of thousands of bots using the real names of living and dead people.

Net neutrality and new edition

Network neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers must pass traffic at the same maximum speed regardless of whether it generates a small resource or a giant like Google or Netflix. So in the US they wanted to achieve equality of all services: in theory, without network neutrality, a provider canreceive money from some sites and “slow down” the work of competitors.

The US Federal Communications Commission introduced the principle in 2010, but a few years later it was tried to cancel. The last version of the rules of network neutrality was adopted in 2015: then the opponents of the law failed to press significant changes.

In April 2017, the chairman of the commission, Ajit Pai, appointed by Donald Trump, with the support of the largest American providers, again proposed therepeal of the law. The Commission called the principle “erroneous” and interfering with innovation on the Internet. The agency also noted that the removal of network neutrality will reduce government spending on the control of providers.

Head of FCC Ajit Pai. AFP photo
The last draft of the initiative was published on November 22, a few weeks before the vote for the repeal of the existing law. Internet providers can get the opportunity to experiment with speed on different lines, prioritize traffic, increase fees for using specific services and services like watching video in 4K resolution, and block websites at their discretion.

In The Verge noted that the principle of network neutrality in the project is only one thing: all solutions providers must declare publicly. Voting for the initiative will be held on December 14 at a meeting of the Federal Communications Commission: its representatives will vote.


Pai called the possible cancellation of network neutrality the end of the era of state control over the Internet. Critics of the project considered the project “killing free Internet”. The media noted that in theory, network neutrality is not needed if the user has a choice between several providers with their services, speed distribution and restrictions. However, in the US, only 22% of residents can choose between two or more providers the speed of the Internet from 25 Mbit / s and above. The rest have no alternative.

July 12, 2017 in the American cities were the first rallies in support of the network neutrality: users joined Google, Twitter, Reddit and dozens of other sites and IT companies. The websites published requests for the preservation of the existing principle.

After the publication of the document with the details of the bill, the protest began again. By November 23, 9 of the 10 most popular entries on the Reddit forum are devoted to network neutrality or are urged to fight “against control by providers.”

On the site (“battle for the network”), users are invited to ask the US Congress to leave the principle of “free Internet”. Protestors can subscribe to a template email or make a call. Judging by the statistics on the site, within a few days the Congress was called more than 500 thousand times. Of these, 270 thousand – one day after the publication of the draft initiative.

In support of network neutrality, two of the five FCC commissioners spoke. For example, Jessica Rosenworcel stated that the federal agency should abandon the “lousy idea that would harm millions of Americans.”

Penalty investigation

According to the federal law of the United States, the Federal Communications Commission was to expose the idea of ​​canceling network neutrality for public discussion in order to listen to criticism and proposals. To do this, in May 2017, the FCC website has the opportunity to comment on the changes in the law. By September, users had left more than 22 million messages.

But in the first weeks of the forum, journalists noticed that several tens of thousands of comments – a duplicate of the same record in support of the cancellation of network neutrality. Most of them were sent from accounts with real names and other personal information. The media appealed to some authors, but it turned out that they did not actually write such comments.

Jessica Rosenvorsel in her appeal to defend network neutrality also raised the topic of cheating bots of comments in support of the FCC. According to her, scammers used the data of already dead people, and 50 thousand complaints of users simply disappeared from the site.

On Nov. 22, the New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman in an open letter on the Medium platform said that he has been investigating a “mass scheme” for six months already to wind up positive comments on the cancellation of network neutrality. He said that during the discussion of the law, messages were sent from several hundred thousand fake accounts with real names, which amounts to the theft of personal data.

The Schneiderman Office repeatedly appealed to the Federal Communications Commission to help with the investigation. The Prosecutor General stressed that the agency has information that will help to find intruders. However, the FCC refused to provide the necessary data.

Schneiderman did not blame the Commission for spam, but warned that he would continue the investigation even without replies from her representatives. The FCC in response called the letter of the Attorney General of New York “a clear attempt to get light from the side of the tight control of the Internet of the times of the Obama administration.”

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