The New York State Attorney General stated on Thursday that the broadband industry funded a campaign in 2017 that generated millions of false comments, giving the impression that the grassroots opposed the net neutrality rule, and the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was considering repealing it. The policy.

The Democratic Attorney General Letitia James said that her office had reached an agreement with the three companies participating in the program-Fluent, Opt-Intelligence and React2Media-with a $4.4 million (approximately Rs 323.8 billion) Fines and require them to carry out comprehensive reforms in India. The propaganda campaign of the future.

Her office identified the company as the lead generator responsible for the millions of false comments submitted in the FCC’s net neutrality program. Federal agencies usually solicit public comment on key policy issues before taking action.

The New York survey showed that broadband industry participants spent US$4.2 million (approximately Rs 30.91 crore) to generate and submit more than 8.5 million false comments to the FCC, “which caused widespread grassroots opposition to existing net neutrality rules. .”

The investigation found that of the 22 million public comments in favor and against net neutrality received by the FCC, nearly 18 million were false.

The attorney general’s office said that Fluent, headquartered in New York, agreed to pay $3.7 million. It said that Fluent provided more than 5 million digital signatures to the broadband industry for net neutrality reviews.

Fluent said in a statement that the settlement involved “traditional practices that occurred before the end of 2018.”

The company added that the settlement agreement “provides clarity and sets a new standard in the field of political advocacy,” and said that since most of the necessary changes have been made, it “has little impact on the way Fluent provides services to customers. “.

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Opt-Intelligence and React2Media did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The investigation found that the three companies also carried out more than 100 other unrelated activities to influence regulators and public officials, and provided false comments for other rulemaking procedures.

James said that other people engaged in fraudulent activities are being investigated.

The FCC, led by former Democratic President Barack Obama, adopted landmark net neutrality rules in 2015, prohibiting Internet service providers from blocking or restricting traffic or providing fast lanes for payment. In December 2017, the FCC under President Donald Trump overturned regulations opposed by the broadband industry.

Proponents of net neutrality rules believe that these protective measures ensure the freedom and openness of the Internet. Broadband and telecommunications industry groups argue that the rule will hinder investment.

Acting FCC chairman, Democratic President Jessica Rosenworcel (Jessica Rosenworcel) voted against the repeal of the bill, saying that the report “proves how the record of notifying the FCC of net neutrality repeal is riddled with fraud… we must learn from these Learn and improve from experience and lessons, because the public deserves to be open and have the opportunity to tell Washington what they think about the policies that affect their lives.”

The New York investigation also found that the FCC also received 9.3 million false comments in support of the net neutrality of the use of virtual identities. The study found that most of these comments were submitted by a 19-year-old college student using automated software.

According to James’ office, a few days before Trump’s inauguration, in mid-January 2017, a document was circulated among a small number of senior executives in the broadband industry, “a plan was developed to overthrow the FCC’s existing network. Neutral regulations”.

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It said the document proposes a campaign designed to support the FCC’s expected net neutrality abolition.

The campaign is carried out through a non-profit organization funded by the broadband industry, called Broadband America, which is composed of senior officials from broadband companies and trade groups. The documents cited in the investigation stated that public opinion would give Ajit Pai, the then Republican chairman of the FCC, a “quantitative and intellectual cover” to be abolished.

Thomson Reuters 2021 ©

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