Pranksters projected the words "Property of Verizon" on the headquarters of the Federal Communications Commission ahead of a vote to overturn net neutrality, a move that stands to enrich telecom companies.
Trump-appointed FCC head Ajit Pai, a former telecom lobbyist, has scheduled the vote for Thursday. The commission is widely expected to overturn the Obama-era regulation of the internet as a public utility, preventing internet-service providers from charging consumers for access to certain content or creating "fast lanes" companies pay to put their sites on.
Pai contends that net neutrality is a regulatory burden. Critics charge that overturning the rule would unfairly benefit large companies and exploit consumers.
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After announcing his intent to repeal net neutrality, Pai was required to open the matter to public comment. On Wednesday, 18 attorneys general around the country sent a letter to the FCC urging a delay on the vote because the agency has refused to investigate millions of comments that were posted using stolen identities.
“As state Attorneys General, many of our offices have received complaints from consumers indicating their distress over their names being used in such a manner,” the letter said. “While we will investigate these consumer complaints through our normal processes, we urge the Commission to take immediate action and to cooperate with law enforcement investigations.”
Twenty-eight U.S. senators have also called for a delay in voting.
Also on Wednesday, New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman issued an update on his office's investigation of the comment fraud. More than 5,000 people have filed reports with Schneiderman's office over fake comments, and up to 2 million comments misused identities. More than 100,000 came from New York, Florida, Texas and California.
"As we’ve told the FCC: moving forward with this vote would make a mockery of our public comment process and reward those who perpetrated this fraud to advance their own hidden agenda," said Scheniderman. "The FCC must postpone this vote and work with us to get to the bottom of what happened.”
Scheiderman also confirmed that the FCC still refused to cooperate with his investigation.