Last year, the FCC was only able to ram through a repeal of Net Neutrality by refusing to reject the millions of comments sent by bots that used the stolen identities of regular internet users, dead people, and even sitting US Members of Congress.
It turns out the FCC isn't the only agency being flooded by bots during requests for comment — and it's also not the only agency that doesn't seem to give a shit about being astroturfed by bots using stolen identities to influence government policy in favor of corporate agencies.
Back in 2014, the FCC was attacked by bots that tried to get it to take a position favorable to massive corporate sports leagues on the subject of "blackouts" during major-league games.
The Labor Board has been flooded by bots who wanted it to end the practice of imposing conflict-of-interest rules on retirement investment advisors (the Board weakened the requirements, allowing advisors to steer their clients towards investments decisions that they will personally benefit from).
In 2015, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency was botted, flooded with stolen-identity comments supporting the merger between Onewest and CIT banks.
All this implies that someone — some consultancy, PR company or other "service provider" — has developed a product that they're shopping in corporate board-rooms, offering to destroy US government agencies' public comment systems with stolen identities who support the clients' most profitable initiative. There are way too many people involved in a scam like this for it to remain a secret. Lots of people must know about this.
Sounds familiar. The same problem was recently found to have plagued a proceeding at the Labor Department, where numerous people who either don't exist or don't recall ever sending messages breathlessly opposed agency efforts to prevent conflicts of interest in retirement advice. The same problem plagued the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau when it proposed a rule trying to rein in some of the nastier habits of the payday lending industry. Nobody appears to have shown much interest in getting to the bottom of that gamesmanship of those instances, either.
And last week, information obtained via FOIA request found that the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the primary bank regulator for nationally chartered banks, was inundated with bogus support for a 2015 merger between OneWest Bank and CIT Bank. A fraud the regulatory agency was aware of and likely involved one of the companies involved, but resulted in no meaningful inquiries.
Fake Comments Are Plaguing Government Agencies And Nobody Much Seems To Care [Karl Bode/Motherboard]