House Democrats are pushing the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for answers over how it reviewed the docket of 24 million public comments submitted in response to the agency’s repeal of its net neutrality rules.
On Tuesday, all 24 Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee sent a letter to the FCC raising concerns about how reports of widespread fake comments in the docket affected the agency’s review of the public input.
The FCC was flooded with a record number of submissions ahead of its vote in December to repeal the net neutrality rules, which require internet service providers to give equal footing to all web traffic.
Throughout the process, Democrats raised concerns about reports that the record was rife with comments filed under fake names and automated submissions, including ones that appear to have originated in Russia.
“When taking any agency action, the FCC bears the burden of demonstrating that its analysis is supported by the record, and that it has fully engaged with the American public by ensuring their voices are heard,” the members wrote.
“Giving the public an opportunity to comment in a proceeding such as this one is crucial not only to ensure the FCC can consider the full impact of its proposal, but also to give the public confidence in the agency’s procedures.”
The Commerce Democrats, led by ranking member Frank Pallone Jr. (N.J.), sent a list of 16 questions to the FCC on how it analyzed the record and determined which comments were worthy of citing in its final order.
“Several members of this Committee filed comments in the docket of this proceeding, yet a number of the arguments raised in those comments were either dismissed out of hand or overlooked entirely,” reads one of the questions. “How did the Commission decide which arguments filed by members of Congress should not be considered?”
The group asked the FCC to provide a response by March 6.