Net neutrality is an issue with a clear divide. On the one side are the de facto monopolies that would very much like to squeeze consumers for more money, and on the other side is pretty much everybody else in America. With John Oliver crashing FCC servers (again) and Trump appointing those aforementioned lackeys, it’s an issue that’s heating up. And, apparently, a spambot is in the middle of it.
ZDNet followed up on Oliver’s report and discovered a deeply suspicious trend of many Americans saying exactly the same thing in exactly the same way on the FCC’s website. So, since you have to provide contact information to comment on the FCC’s proposed policy, ZDNet did just that, and called some of these people.
To nobody’s surprise, they turned out to have had their identities stolen:
We reached out to two-dozen people by phone, and we left voicemails when nobody picked up. A couple of people late Tuesday called back and confirmed that they had not left any messages on the FCC’s website. One of the returning callers specifically said they didn’t know what net neutrality was. A third person reached in a Facebook message Tuesday also confirmed that they had not left any comments on any website.
This bot has left at least 58,000 messages, and counting, when ZDNet published their piece. As of right now, there are nearly 140,000.
As for who would do this, you might think it’s just some 4Chan kid, but it’s worth noting that ISPs have pulled some rather scummy tactics to try and tilt the discussion their way. Comcast has paid people to sit in net neutrality meetings to keep activists out of those meetings, for example. So don’t be surprised if it turns out somebody from a major ISP has been trying to stack the deck.