Image: Free Press/Flickr

Shady Conservative Group Is Flooding the FCC With Anti-Net Neutrality Comments

How predictable.

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Apr 28 2017, 8:14pm

Image: Free Press/Flickr

That didn't take long.

Barely 24 hours after the Federal Communications Commission opened up comments for its proposal to undo net neutrality regulations, a right wing advocacy group appears to have flooded the zone with comments suggesting the regulations have "diminished broadband investment, stifled innovation, and left American consumers potentially on the hook for a new broadband tax."

A section of the pre-baked comments. Image: Nicholas Deleon

The group behind the brigading appears to be American Commitment, the Washington, DC-based group whose animating spirit is supposedly the desire to "restore and protect the American Commitment to free markets, economic growth, Constitutionally-limited government, property rights, and individual freedom," as it notes on its Twitter account. The best way to do that, apparently, is to create a handy online form that people can fill out and then automatically send off to the FCC:

The pre-baked comments as crafted on the American Commitment website. Image: Nicholas Deleon

If any of this sounds familiar then congratulations on paying attention!

In October 2014 we wrote about the "conservative anti-net neutrality movement that wasn't," which explained how this same right wing advocacy group, American Commitment, attempted to derail the net neutrality regulations before they were passed by the FCC in early 2015. At the time, the group's president Phil Kerpen, claimed the regulations—excuse me, "internet takeover"—were "marxist" and the "first step in the fight to destroy American capitalism altogether."

It's unclear exactly how genuine the support is for American Commitment's efforts, but history does not reflect kindly upon the organization. In 2014, its alleged "grassroots" efforts to stop net neutrality in its tracks was little more than the result of paid email marketing campaigns with scary subject lines like "Only Days to Stop Obama's Takeover." It's hard to square this alleged distaste for net neutrality when a 2014 Sunlight Foundation analysis found that 99 percent of comments registered with the FCC were actually in favor of strong net neutrality regulations.

American Commitment did not respond to request for comment.

Incidentally, this brigading comes on the same day that FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, the former Verizon lawyer who was appointed by President Trump, gave an exclusive interview to Breitbart in which he claimed that "everyone agrees on the principles of a free and open internet," while in the very next breath undermining the very regulations that sought to codify this principle.