There have been quite a number of negative comments submitted to the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regarding the current Net Neutrality rules. More than 1.5 million comments to be more exact. Out of these hate spews, it turned out that hundreds of thousands of them were identical comments submitted by spam bots disguised as ordinary people with something to say.

Impersonations of the living (and the dead)

Out of the people whose names and addresses were misused to spread hateful comments against net neutrality, 14 people have penned a letter to the FCC demanding for an investigation.

Led by Fight for the Future group, a non-profit for freedom of expression and creativity on the web, the victims demanded that FCC chairman Rajit Pai take specific actions to remedy the situation, including removing all of the comments that have been posted online for everyone to see.

According to the letter “hundreds of thousands of other Americans may have been victimized too.” The names and addresses were stolen from people without them knowing, and in a few cases, comments were even filed on behalf of deceased individuals, Fight for the Future said on Thursday. There are more than 450,000 fake comments that need to be removed from the internet, and the group also demanded that the FCC publicly disclose any information about the entity or person behind the mass spamming.

Identical comments

Various comments began flooding the FCC’s website earlier this month responding to the proposed rollback of internet regulations set in place in 2015 by the Obama administration, after talk show host John Oliver encouraged his viewers to get involved and take action. According to The Verge, a duplicated text search revealed at least 58,000 results with 17,000 comments posted within the last 24 hours on May 9 alone.

The publication then contacted the people whose real names and addresses were attached to the comment, but these individuals were saying that they did not post the comments.

Concerted attacks?

For people with a little bit of in-depth knowledge about the digital world, automation is not something that is beyond reach. Grassroots organizations involved in the net neutrality debate have long been using some type of automation to get people to fill forms, and even to suggest messages that they could send to the FCC.

Many people who have been contacted by the media regarding their comments have said that they did not have any special link to the FCC or the telecommunications industry.