[Note: This comment comes from reader Brett Glass. DLH]
From: Brett Glass <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Re: [Dewayne-Net] Anti-net neutrality spammers are impersonating real people to flood FCC comments
Date: May 15, 2017 at 8:41:46 AM PDT
To: “Dewayne Hendricks” <email@example.com>
Dewayne, and everyone:
What The Verge (which conveniently fails to state that it receives advertising revenue from Google) omits, in its article, is that thousands of questionable comments SUPPORTING the so-called “network neutrality” regulations (which are, in fact, not neutral at all and are in violation of Federal law) were likewise filed on the FCC Web site.
The Verge also fails to note that the FCC notice-and-comment process is not a vote. The Commission is — at least in theory — an “expert agency,” which makes an expert determination on issues which may be informed by the comments that are filed. It has an obligation to respond to valid points that are raised in the record, but not to count them as “votes.”
The most serious flaws in the rule making process stem not from corporate lobbying groups’ ability to spam the docket (as Google’s lobbyists have done in the past and current proceedings) but from the FCC’s susceptibility to politics. The Commission’s chairman is appointed by, and remains chairman only at the will of, the President, and serves as CEO of the agency. He or she has complete control of meeting agendas, and every employee at the agency works for him or her. Thus, a shift in partisan control of the White House is enough to entirely upend the agency… and any corporation which achieves sufficient influence at the White House can effect regulatory capture of the FCC. This occurred during the Obama administration, when Google — to which campaign staff openly and emphatically contributed both of Obama’s electoral victories — placed dozens of employees throughout the Executive Branch and forced the FCC, via threats of demotion of its Chairman, to honor its every corporate whim. A Google lobbyist, “embedded” in the FCC Chairman’s office, wrote and vetted the “network neutrality” regulations, leaking non-public drafts to Google and its lobbyists and tailoring the regulations to its corporate agendas.
This situation was exacerbated by the packing of the Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit, a majority of whose judges had (and have) an inherent conflict of interest: to be best positioned for a promotion to the Supreme Court, they had to fully support the agendas of the White House (and, hence, of Google). The current actions of now-Chairman Pai can legitimately be seen not as bias toward large telecom companies but rather as an attempt to reverse the effects of these systemic failures.
In any event, we can glean two things from The Verge’s article. Firstly, it is making a mountain out of a mole hill — the number of comments filed with the FCC, or even their veracity, does not matter. It is the FCC’s job only to take them under advisement and then sort matters out for itself on the basis of its own expertise (and, we can hope, with as little political bias as is feasible given the flawed structure of the agency). Secondly, its one-sided bias demonstrates that when one reads about this and related issues in The Verge, one must read critically and watch for bias in its articles on the subject in that publication (as well as in others published by the same parent company). Alas, given its strong bias, many of them are likely to sink to the level of “fake news.”
Anti-net neutrality spammers are impersonating real people to flood FCC comments
By Colin Lecher, Adi Robertson, and Russell Brandom
May 10 2017