To overcome the consequences of a massive public policy decision, U.S. broadband industry firms funded a number of fraudulent firms, according to the New York Attorney General’s offensive new report.
The report’s findings reflect these, from a 2019 BuzzFeed News investigation that delved into millions of fake public comments submitted on behalf of individual citizens to the Federal Communications Commission in 2017 against. policy “Net neutrality”
The Attorney General found that the industry campaign “resulted in more than 8.5 million fake comments,”; representing nearly 40% of the total the FCC received from record-breaking documents. There is even some concern about the process. But federal agencies also repealed the net neutrality rules that the Obama administration pushed for.
The new report describes an effort funded by the broadband industry group for America to create fake grassroots advocacy, a practice known as the “astroturfing”, which “relies on the company” generates leads. “For-profit businesses – businesses that collect names, contact information, and other personal information from consumers and sell that information to third parties,” continued, “In each case, the manufacturing company responsible for Getting people to sign in to these comments is simply a fraudulent practice to achieve their goals. ”
The debate over how governments should control ISPs attract a lot of attention, with both claiming to shape the web for decades to come. But it also shows how easily the deep corporate interests can destroy the democratic process. The opinion the broadband industry paid to generate in hopes of influencing the FCC’s decision has become one of the most prolific cases of impersonation in US political history. The attorney general’s statement today is the clearest yet detailing how the process was unfolded and to alert how easy it would be to happen again.
In one case, Broadband for America hired a political consultant who hired another company that hired a “small digital advertising firm in California” who “claimed to be able to place ads for opinion campaigns on various Internet sites and collect individuals. Name, contact information and consent to submit comments to the FCC on their behalf. ”The report did not name the advertising company, but in an earlier report, BuzzFeed News identified it as LCX Digital.
The advertising company claims that their ads have left more than 1.5 million people with comments sent to the FCC in their names, according to the report.
“In fact, none of these people do,” the researchers said in a study reflecting what was published by BuzzFeed News. Records were stolen as a result of a data breach and were scrapped online in 2016 for the remainder of most reviews – about 100,000 people – the advertising companies blatantly copied the information. It provided information “to an intermediary company” a year earlier for their opinions on various regulatory actions of the FCC. “
The report states that “Red flags were ignored” by industry campaigners, but the state “found no evidence” stating that “the broadband companies that fund and organize these lead generators have direct knowledge of fraud.”
Neither LCX nor Broadband for America did respond to requests for comment.
The New York Examiner stated that the advertising company worked on at least three other sponsored campaigns in which the company “generated all or most of the consent record”.
The attorney general said it had settled settlements with three other companies, among which they were responsible for some 5.4 million comments “all or most of them were fraud”. It has been covered for future sponsorship campaigns and paid more than $ 4.4 million in fines and fines.
The attorney general said the investigation was ongoing. But did not specify a specific goal.