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'Free Market' Group: FCC Comments Show Nobody Really Wants Net Neutrality

So we've discussed how there's growing controversy about the gaming of the FCC's public docket on net neutrality to give the illusion of support for what's an extremely unpopular plan to kill the rules. A bot has been stuffing the ballot box with bogus comments using dead or otherwise fraudulent people, and I've seen my name hijacked and used to support the killing of the rules as well. So far, there's every indication that the FCC has no intention to crack down on any of this, since this fraudulent behavior supports its awful plan to kill net neutrality protections.

One analysts suggested that up to 40% of the roughly five-million comments submitted so far are coming from the aforementioned bot. After initially telling me they were "looking into" things, the FCC has ignored repeated requests for comment on why it's failing to police even the most rudimentary abuse of its own systems, like the example in my name above.

And now, with the ballot box stuffed, it's easier than ever for industry-connected groups to pretend the FCC's plan has broad support among the public. For example, a "free market" group calling itself Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE) this week conducted a "study" of the comments. It's findings? People apparently overwhelmingly don't want a healthy and open internet free from the meddling of historically anti-competitive telecom duopolies:

"Free market group Consumer Action for a Strong Economy (CASE) says according to its analysis of the FCC's open internet docket, a majority (65%) favor repealing the Title II-based Open Internet order, as FCC chairman Ajit Pai has proposed to do...The group said it looked at the 4,990,000 filings as of June 20, and said it would do similar assessments in the future. Of those, it said, 3,237,916 support repealing the order, while 35% (1,752,084) oppose repeal.

Of course, you can certainly trust a group previously on record as saying FCC boss Ajit Pai is "brilliant" and "courageous" for ignoring the will of the public and gutting consumer protections governing some of the least liked, and least-competitive companies in American industry. Looking at the group's methodology of the study (pdf), it notes that it came to its conclusion by looking specifically for "unique phrases," but fails to show any of the math for what these phrases are, or how they were used. The group doesn't even mention the major scandal involving the bot using dead or otherwise fake people to stuff the ballot box:

"We identified form letters by sorting large batches of comments to find groupings of comments with similar language. Then we scored each form letter as "supporting repeal" and "opposing repeal." Within each form letter we identified unique phrases, then used these phrases to query all of the comments to find the number of comments containing the same language. This allowed (sic) to score 75% of all the comments in the docket as either "supporting" or "opposing" repeal."

Of course that runs in dramatic contrast to previous studies that found, once you eliminated bullshit bots from the equation, that the vast majority of real comments support keeping the rules intact. The group's study also flies in the face of survey after survey that indicates net neutrality has broad, bipartisan support among consumers. Of course "studies" like this are precisely why the FCC refuses to even comment on why it's turning a blind eye to comment fraud.

Even if nobody takes studies like this seriously (and it's pretty clear some news outlets do), the hope is clearly to generate enough doubt about the validity of the comments and commenting process to justify ignoring the will of the public when the FCC votes to finalize killing the rules later this year.

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