And by the state of Denmark, I mean the FCC. Specifically the public-comments docket from the Trump FCC’s 2017 Net Neutrality repeal.
Last week, BuzzFeed News released a bombshell report that raises further questions about the validity of the comment process, the Trump FCC’s response to apparent fraud and the future of the free and open internet. The report alleges that two firms you’ve probably never heard of, LCX Digital and Media Bridge, were working on behalf of cable-industry group Broadband for America — which represents the likes of AT&T and Comcast — to submit millions of fraudulent comments in favor of the FCC’s repeal of the Obama-era Net Neutrality rules.
So what does all of this mean? Here are our top-5 takeaways from these revelations:
1. There was some serious f**kery afoot in the 2017 Net Neutrality repeal docket. 22 million comments were submitted. But not all of them were real. Fake comments were submitted on behalf of fictional characters, deceased people and sitting members of Congress (some of them in direct opposition to lawmakers' long-held and publicly stated beliefs on the issue).
BuzzFeed analyzed the comments and in one group of 1.9 million, 94% of the email addresses belonged to people whose information had been exposed in the Modern Business Solutions data breach. And the companies using this stolen information submitted predominantly anti-Net Neutrality comments.
2. Cable companies are up to no good. This isn’t breaking news, but it’s worth repeating. AT&T, Comcast and some of the largest telecom trade associations in the country bankrolled this fraudulent operation. And what have we heard from them in response to this allegation?
3. Net Neutrality is important. If it weren’t, these companies wouldn’t be spending millions of dollars and going to all this trouble to destroy it. Net Neutrality is the bedrock of every single social-justice movement happening today. It protects our ability to organize for immigrant rights, racial justice, economic justice, reproductive freedom, environmental protections and so much more by ensuring that ISPs like AT&T and Comcast can’t block or throttle content online.
These movements directly challenge the power of executives in all industries, and we won’t stand idly by while a handful of people threatens our capacity to take collective action. The world can’t afford it.
4. Net Neutrality is wildly popular. If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a thousand times: 86 percent of voters — including 82 percent of Republicans and 90 percent of Democrats — support the rules that Chairman Pai repealed. Independent analysts have found that more than 9 out of every 10 unique comments in the FCC proceeding supported Net Neutrality.
That’s why enemies of a free and open internet went to such great lengths to submit anti-Net Neutrality comments. Public opinion and the facts are against them, and they know it.
5. It’s time to get to work. Last week, the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals largely upheld the Trump FCC’s Net Neutrality repeal. But that’s not the end of this story. Net Neutrality will become the land of the land once more — whether that happens state by state, via Congress, through further court appeals or due to a new FCC in 2021.
AT&T and Comcast don’t get to buy a friendly ruling at the FCC: Help us bring Net Neutrality back.