The U.S. broadband internet industry hated the “net neutrality” laws so much they cooked up an illegal scheme to impersonate millions of Americans and use their “zombiebot” identities to influence the high-stakes decision over who gets to control how fast each website is allowed to move.
Broadband industry cheats to win
The report published Thursday by New York Attorney General Letitia James accuses The U.S. broadband industry of running a “secret campaign” to “create the impression of grassroots opposition to net neutrality rules.” This happened in 2017, while the Federal Communications Commission weighed repealing internet speed limits.
To heavily influence the decision, the industry simply bought and paid for “18 million fake public comments,” out of the record-breaking 22 million which flooded in.
“Americans’ voices are being drowned out by masses of fake comments and messages being submitted to the government to sway decision-making,” Attorney General James insists. At least when it comes to the broadband wars.
“Instead of actually looking for real responses from the American people, marketing companies are luring vulnerable individuals to their websites with freebies.” And everyone wonders how a presidential election could be stolen under their noses. You may have been one of the opponents to a fair internet and not even know it.
What the broadband consortium did was hire third party firms to “co-opt” the identities of anyone who fell into their web, then fabricate “responses that giant corporations are then using to influence the policies and laws that govern our lives.”
Before the FCC could overturn the laws, which the industries were drooling to do, there had to be a “public comment period.”
After a multi-year investigation, we found the nation's largest broadband companies funded a secret campaign to influence the FCC's repeal of net neutrality rules — resulting in millions of fake public comments impersonating Americans.
These illegal schemes are unacceptable.
— NY AG James (@NewYorkStateAG) May 6, 2021
Lead generation companies
All by itself, industry group Broadband for America, spent $4.2 million generating comments and sending letters to Congress. The investigation reveals that they bought “more than 8.5 million comments” that way.
The detectives also determined that the “comments funded by the industry group were collected by so-called lead generation companies, which offered people rewards in exchange for their information.” One company “even copied personal information that was stolen in a data breach.”
The report stated, after “a multi-year investigation, we found the nation’s largest broadband companies funded a secret campaign to influence the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality rules — resulting in millions of fake public comments impersonating Americans.”
Even worse, the “lead generators also took names and addresses they had already collected in unrelated work.” They simply sold them to the lobby group claiming falsely that “those people had agreed to join the campaign against net neutrality.”
According to the Attorney General’s report, “three lead generation companies — Fluent Inc., Opt-Intelligence Inc. and React2Media Inc. — committed fraud.”
It turned out when they dug a little deeper that they “had also participated in over 100 other advocacy campaigns unrelated to net neutrality.” As part of a deal, she “reached agreements” with the broadband companies which “required them to reform certain practices and pay $4.4 million in cumulative penalties.”