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Dead People Are Posting Anti-Net Neutrality Comments to FCC Website (vice.com)
290 points by phr4ts on May 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 74 comments

It honestly doesn't matter. Nobody at the FCC is going to read these things - it's there because it has to be there, not because they intend on listening.

They've set their agenda, now they're executing it. They have absolutely no plans on listening to anyone along the way. Nobody in this entire administration does.

But it does matter, because it shows malice and intent. All three data points have to be taken together (FCC Opens up comments, Comments criminally spammed, FCC decides the issue X). Given the clear and convincing evidence of malfeasance in the comment stream, the FCC's actions can be judged as reasonable or unreasonable.

So what matters is that we shine light on their agenda so that it is not possible for them to credibly deny they are not following their own policies.

> So what matters is that we shine light on their agenda so that it is not possible for them to credibly deny they are not following their own policies.

And who is going to shine a line or report on that? The "fake news" media?

Nobody will care, they don't want to hear it and they won't believe it, cognitive dissonance is amazingly powerful.

It's a long game. This administration will (eventually) turn over, and we need the new guys to be very clear about where the old guys fucked up.

The fake news is also in favor of the "new guys".

Cognitive dissonance is when you hold two opposing viewpoints at once. Like if you think killing animals for food is wrong but you love eating steaks and plan to continue doing so.

It does not mean choosing to ignore reality or being willfully blind like you are using it here. I'm not sure how it has become popular to misuse it in that way over the last couple years, but it seems to be a thing.

I think notadoc meant to use the term "mental gymnastics".

(I agree "cognitive dissonance" seems to be misused lately. That's how language evolves, unfortunately. And to add to your definition, it's the stress from with holding two opposing thoughts, hence the dissonance.)

How about "cognitive disconnect" as the better descriptive phrase?

It's just plain old confirmation bias, though I like the more recent[1] semantic extension of the phrase "epistemic closure" to describe belief systems impervious to outside information.

[1] - http://www.nytimes.com/2010/04/28/books/28conserv.html

If the FCC ruling is challenged in court, then hopefully the court would do that. The FCC doesn't have to follow what the comments tell them to do, but they do have to take their arguments into consideration.

What does spam have to do with the FCC's decision making?


Comments are for submitting ideas. It was never supposed to be a popular vote.

Shine a light for who to see?

Hopefully the EFF can challenge this in court and this provides good evidence that the FCC is ignoring what Americans want.

FCC's job is to make and enforce policy that conforms to the law set by Congress, not to hold and obey public votes.

Yet, they are not allowed to ignore the public's comments. They must take them into consideration, even if they end up deciding to act against public opinion.

Ignoring what Americans want is almost the entire point of regulatory agencies like the FCC. They're a bureaucratic/technocratic check on the democratic process. (Which is why, in my opinion they're unconstitutional, but that's an argument for another day.)

That doesn't really explain the fact that a lot of agencies were created because of public outcry, such as the FDA. I think agencies exist because lawmakers don't really have the ability to move decisively when it is needed.

isn't the constitution itself a check on the democratic process?

Many mechanisms in the constitution serve as checks on the democratic process. Adding checks in addition to those is unconstitutional: http://www.law.nyu.edu/sites/default/files/ECM_PRO_060974.pd....

For the folks who aren't about to give up so easy, here's the reddit sub where people are brainstorming ways to "make" them listen. Again. I imagine it wil be something along the lines of another blackout or whatever a "march" on the Internet would look like.


I'm sorry, but what exactly is this subreddit accomplishing? It looks like just a bunch of articles about how the current FCC admin is bad, and fear-mongering photos of phones being completely blacked out and emojis on them. I don't like the removal of net neutrality rulings, but suggesting that place is a serious forum for bringing about change is a bit of a stretch. Good arguments to keep the rulings are going to do more than creating something like this: https://i.redd.it/c3esz8ok0izy.png

I'm not giving up, I'm stating the facts of the case. If you've actually got a concrete proposal on something that will actually shift the agenda of this agency, I'm 100% all ears.

I suspect I'll be waiting a while though, since the FCC, like many of the commissions like it, were not created with the Russian coup like we're experiencing right now in mind. We can protest and gnash our teeth all we want, but very, very soon this is going to happen, and then very, very soon we're going to see companies like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast moving to marginalize our ability to communicate and use the services we want as we want, all the while maintaining they will "honor net neutrality". At that point, we can sue and start the lawsuit process... but they've got warchests tallying the billions of dollars, control and deep connections in the media to push their agenda, and lawyers enough to bury the suit for a decade and we've got... the EFF? It's the definition of a Goliath vs David battle, and it's not a swift battle to fight.

Normally we'd turn to our representatives and senators to swat down stupidity, or failing that, sue early and hope the court system figures it out... but all of those solutions require a cooperative government which we are seeing is simply not going to be the case here. Silly enough, our government has the power to choose who sues them and whether the case can proceed - all they need to do is shop for the right venue. The government is currently only listening to companies who have written them fat checks to execute on their demands, and unfortunately the will of the American people is collateral damage.

(Luckily for us, the Republicans aren't actually coordinated enough yet within their own party to really start dismantling this country, because right now they wield an unprecedented amount of power to push whatever agenda they please - if it's constitutional, they can do it, and we have next to no actual legal power to stop them, aside from an actual revolution. Perhaps the next set of people we put into power will right this incredible wrong and pass some laws or perhaps even a constitutional amendment giving the citizens of this country to override the will of the legislature or executive branch through a vote of no confidence or a recall election, or even just the ability for the citizens to pause non-essential Federal government policymaking during an active criminal investigation into the executive branch... but I'm not holding my breath on any of these happening in the next 3ish years.)

Our best bet is that maybe in 2018 enough seats flip that maybe Congress can claw back some control and stem the madness until 2020 when we can hopefully restore sanity (you know, if we can prevent external countries meddling in our election again...) but we currently have no brakes to pump, and nobody in government representing the majority of the American people when they say they want strong net neutrality backed by Title II. Making a lot of noise isn't going to solve this problem alone. Either they need to actually be stripped of power, or us citizens need to find some actual power to wield against them.

And like I said, I'm all ears on where we can get some power.

Good luck with that, the current FCC chair was an Obama appointee. This has nothing to do with silly Russian conspiracy theories and everything to do with money.

There's a limit of 3 commissioners from the same party. Obama followed precedent by nominating the Republicans' picks for the other 2 seats. The Democrats on the commission have consistently supported net neutrality, and the Republicans have consistently opposed it.

The only facts so far are that dissenters have until mid-August to make their side known.

The trick is they want you to feel powerless and that nothing can be done, that it's already too late. Your original comment shows you are falling for it.

The means they are using to perform this trickery is to convince you that it is too much for any one person to make a difference. "Their minds are already made up". This kind of trickery only works on uneducated and weak people.

The blackouts worked before because they disrupted, at least a little bit, the everyday lives of important people and non-important people alike ... because a lot of people worked in concert together to be heard/noticed as one.

I'll refrain from responding to the snide remarks by rmccoy6435; suffice it to say that if there is one thing that a subreddit can do well, it's help people organize w.r.t. their constitutional right to assemble[1] in the name of free speech and thus show strength in numbers. Losing net neutrality could theoretically take that away, too.


>> I suspect I'll be waiting a while though, since the FCC, like many of the commissions like it, were not created with the Russian coup like we're experiencing right now in mind.

I stopped reading after this sentence. If you want me to listen to what you have to say (and judging by the amount of paragraphs on your post, it looks like a lot) then using political rhetoric doesn't help you at all.

I want solutions, and I'm plenty fucking tired of pointing fingers and talking about conspiracies.

This: I heard the NPR interview with Ajit Pai. Basically he had made his mind up. The writeup is very kind to him, the audio is a lot worse.

Q: if public opinon would prefer to treat the internet like the internet like a utility would you vote the other way?

Pai responded with Not really an answer saying they have to look at the evidence, but his answer was no.


His solution to problems with ISPs is for consumers to complain to a regulatory agency. After taking away regulatory authority.

While it's easy to fall into this mindset I think it is important that we do not. Staying engaged is extremely important, and regulators (especially bipartisan commissions) will review these comments and incorporate them. If anything, the sheer number of dissenting comments is a metric that will be important to measure the popularity or lack thereof of any decision.

Of course they've already decided what they're going to do, but even if there's no chance these public comments will stop them, it's still better if there's a record of fierce public opposition that they have to explain.

> Nobody at the FCC is going to read these things

Yes, they will. And the final rule that is issued (and the almost inevitable dissent) will probably directly acknowledge them (though one side dismissively.)

This reluctant attitude is what allows them to win.

Even if the policy choices are foregone an investigation punishing those responsible for this identity theft seems merited.

> punishing those responsible for this identity theft seems merited.

Oh no, those pesky Russians got their hands on a public data breach dataset and are simply ripping through them and submitting the same comment over and over...

Whelp, we better acquiesce to 'their' 'demands' and do exactly what we wanted to do in the first place. How convenient all of these robots were exactly aligned with our desires!

Sounds just like the previous administration and the one before that.

I wonder how bad it will get before this country finally realizes its going to take more than two parties to run this country well. People are getting sick of this shit.

No, it's big deal, very dangerous AND it's a crime.

I hope that when I die I can stay as far away from politics as possible.

Dead people have opinions about net neutrality too.

Since ping times from the afterlife have such bad latency, they don't mind letting ISPs get away with whatever they want.

Comments the say the same thing just count for a single comment ... and they don't count up. This isn't a vote. The FCC is a regulator. The government calls the shots. Misusing the comment process as a sort of virtual petition could in theory influence the government but there has to be a better way to do this sort of thing.

Exactly this.

I've worked with many regulators on industry/public reviews. Submitting opinions or copy pasta achieves nothing, no matter how voluminous. It will at best end up refered to in the final report as something like "Mupltiple unsubstantiated submissions were made supporting net neutralitity."

Things that make a difference, at least to the extent that some time and effort has to be made responding to them in the final report, include:

1. Summarising similar rulings in other jurisdictions. Ideally, including the reasoning why they made their decision, and some analysis of the impact. Comparisons of market similarities (e.g. level/structure of competition) helps to show why those decisions are relevant to the local market.

2. Arguing from local regulatory context. Working from the local competition/telecoms laws and previous decisions by the regulator, construct a structured argument why the desired outcome logically follows.

3. Arguing from first principles. Often involving some market/scenario modelling showing current market behaviour and how that would/would not change under different regulatory outcomes. Most competition/telecoms legislation is framed around benefits to consumers, so the modelling should focus on the consumer impact, not just competitor impact.

Most industry submissions will utilise a combination of the above, and draw upon global experts to strengthen their case and add credibility to their analysis.

I can't speak to the FCC and this particular ruling, but I have seen regulators change their draft recommendations on the basis of submissions received during the public review process. Even when the regulator has predetermined the outcome, having the submissions and the official responses recorded in the final report provides a reference basis for additional lobbying at a later date.

It doesn't matter, they will do whatever they want anyway. Perhaps if the dead start rising form their graves... maybe not even then.

The URL syntax to search comments for the docket in question is straightforward, in case you felt the desire to check on the quickness of the dead: https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/search/filings?proceedings_name=17-...

Interestingly, according to that link Mr./Mrs. Firstname Lastname left them a reply indicating his or her support for strong net neutrality. :)

Why use dead people? Property tax records are public information. There's more than one website that lets you go through them.

Whoever did this probably did some mass data collection like you are suggesting. But some people died between collection date and message date, or the data was not up to date, so we got dead people commenting on the issue.

I'm imagining that the dead are just a small fraction of the fake comments: just those who had died since whatever dataset being used was last regenerated/cleaned.

Simpsons did it.

I never understood Americans' obsession of having the government control ISPs. Like, I'm sure most of people here are liberals who hate Trump. Do you seriously want the Trump administration having the means to control the way ISPs deliver content? Take it from somebody living in Russia, you really don't want that.

> I never understood Americans' obsession of having the government control ISPs

While I agree on principle, I always make exceptions for monopolies: ISPs in the US are local monopolies: they carved up the market geographically and deliberately choose not to compete.

The perverse thing is that the Republicans echo your hands-off sentiment at federal level, while Republican-ruled states are busy passing hands-on laws that ban municipal networks.

The government is always a better steward then the Aristocracy, as the aristocracy tend to be able to ignore both market demand and popular demand where as the government have some accountability to the public.

The free market ideology is based on a assumption that a actual free market exists and that assumption is false when it comes to most forms of infrastructure including Internet cables.

So, my ashamedly limited historical understanding of this, brought to me by John Oliver, is that the FCC was assumed to have the powers of the whole Title II thing prior to losing a court case.. Is this the case?

If that's the case, Pai's rationalization is very hand-wavy.

The fact that big tech companies like Facebook support net neutrality actually makes me consider not supporting it. I just don't trust Facebook's motives - What I do trust is their ability and willingness to screw over society in order to maximise profits.

What you're doing is confusing a second-order signal when you have first-order knowledge. We should expect someone who doesn't understand net-neutrality at all to use second-order signals like "Big company X supports net neutrality, therefore I should do Y". If you actually understand net-neutrality, you can assign much lower weight of evidence to whether or not a company supports it, since you can decide from first principles whether you support the idea yourself.

This is what a lot of partisan media commentary gets wrong, since they tend to focus on "So-and-so is a liberal/conservative, therefore everything they say is tainted. We can't trust anything they say!" When in reality, there are facts to be had, and you can investigate them, and ignore who is saying what. The taint argument is only a good heuristic when you're completely uneducated about a topic.

I understand this sentiment, but I also think it can be a little short-sighted. There can be cases where your best interests and those of a corporation can line up. This is one of those cases. It doesn't mean that you're now an evangelist of the company, just that you agree in this particular scenario. Having a stance on something purely because someone you like/dislike has a stance on it is extremely dangerous.

This is in fact the crux of the argument that the FCC put forth.

They said that it isn't fair that some companies are restricted from using your private information, but huge companies like Google, Facebook and others have free access and free reign to with it what they want. Instead of making your data private from all the companies, they instead did THE EXACT OPPOSITE and made all the private information readily available to everyone and every company who wants it.

Big telecom companies like Verizon, who make their money by hijacking public infrastructure and then renting access to it, oppose net neutrality.

They support it for publicity. Imagine if they wouldn't. They assume net neutrality will not pass, but they will make good face to a bad game.

Isn't Facebook's Internet.org project a direct affront on net neutrality?

No, Internet.org Free Basics is Facebook paying people's data costs for traffic to Facebook services, akin to Amazon giving out Amazon gift cards. It isn't preventing anyone from buying other traffic at standard destination-neutral rates, or privatizing a publicly-financed utility.

> Facebook paying people's data costs for traffic to Facebook services

I think it could be argued that sponsoring 3rd party services required to access Facebook under the condition they won't be used to access competing sites is a novel form of dumping. Clearly the goal is to get poor people hooked on FB before they can afford to buy actual Internet access and decide for themselves.

And suggesting that this monopolistic propaganda initiative can be called "Internet Basics" is a direct affront to the Internet itself.

If Facebook actually wanted to be neutral they would sponsor unrestricted access with small data cap. Still good enough for browsing Facebook and Wikipedia but without the vendor lock-in.

A public comment forum is full of fraudulent posts? No!

I think the disappointing thing here is that the anti-neutrality voice is most entirely corporate suggesting someone has paid to get these comments added.

Maybe the real solution is open alternatives to the current internet infrastructure?

Is it possible to release technology under the GPL?

The hard part is not putting out a spec for a decentralized internet (though that's an intellectually hard problem as well). The hard part is getting people to purchase the hardware for your new internet in sufficient volume.



According to your link, "If an asset is left to a spouse or a federally recognized charity, the tax usually does not apply. In addition, up to a certain amount varying year by year can be given by an individual, before and/or upon their death, without incurring federal gift or estate taxes:[2] $5,340,000 for estates of persons dying in 2014,[3] $5,430,000 for estates of persons dying in 2015,[4] and $5,450,000 (effectively $10.90 million per married couple) for estates of persons dying in 2016.[5] Because of these exemptions, only the largest 0.2% of estates in the US will have to pay any estate tax."

No one in my family has ever had that much. I won't, either; I'll probably die somewhat above the level of "hovel," but far below "estate." I can't find it within me to get too worked up about the Estate Tax.

Yup, we should just go to full oligarchy and let real wealth stay with the 1% families while we fight for their scraps!

My comment was sarcasm, that since dead people were being taxed they should be allowed to vote.

But thanks for the donwvotes, sorry about the humor.

Capitalism can be thought of as a complex learning system. We, as a society, want people to contribute the most that they can to the overall goals of humanity and capitalism acts as a vehicle for that.

Comparing it to another popular complex learning system, neural networks, might provide insight on failure conditions.

Income taxes can be thought of as gradient regularizers. Basically limit the amount of weights accumulated per training session (wealth per tax year). Estate taxes can be thought of as weight regularizers (that occur once per lifetime). Maybe it would be more palatable as a tax on wealth yearly.

One of the ways that networks fail (and capitalism can fail) is with extreme values on weights (wealth) on small portions of the network. There are ways to counter this on a neural network - some are heavy handed (l1, l2 regularization), but some are just clever without direct analogies (dropout, batch normalization, etc).

I wonder how the conversation would change if we had to calculate our income tax as a percentage of total wealth each tax year.

>We, as a society, want people to contribute the most that they can to the overall goals of humanity and capitalism acts as a vehicle for that.

For the point of view that it's not a very good vehicle at all, it's worth reading Oscar Widle's essay The Soul of Man Under Socialism, which is free to read online (of course!)

Here's a quick excerpt:

Now and then, in the course of the century, a great man of science, like Darwin; a great poet, like Keats; a fine critical spirit, like M. Renan; a supreme artist, like Flaubert, has been able to isolate himself, to keep himself out of reach of the clamorous claims of others, to stand ‘under the shelter of the wall,’ as Plato puts it, and so to realise the perfection of what was in him, to his own incomparable gain, and to the incomparable and lasting gain of the whole world. These, however, are exceptions. The majority of people spoil their lives by an unhealthy and exaggerated altruism – are forced, indeed, so to spoil them. They find themselves surrounded by hideous poverty, by hideous ugliness, by hideous starvation. It is inevitable that they should be strongly moved by all this.

If this is interesting, Kropotkin's The Conquest of Bread is also a really engaging read.

Worth pointing out, dead people have no assets to tax.. When a person dies, all of their debts and assets are transferred to a separate legal entity -- the estate. And no, the estate can't vote.

KiDD on May 25, 2017 [flagged]

Old people always complaining about stuff they don't understand!

I don't understand why anyone would want telegraph neutrality stop

Would you please stop posting unsubstantive comments to HN? We're hoping for a higher quality level here.

zombie apocalypse, finally

Wow incredible.

Who would have thought the first time humanity would see large scale resurrections of the dead would be so that the corpses could post internet comments about how much they hate the idea of net neutrality and show their support and love for monopolies?

Simply amazing, I knew people would be passionate about net neutrality but I wouldn't have guessed it was powerful enough to resurrect the lifeless.

Do you think they will start using this technique in medicine soon? In the ER or hospitals? Imagine the amazing sequence of events:

"We're losing him, we're losing him... he just has no more will to live"

'No wait, give me that laptop.'

"He's dead, flatlined"


... grumble grumble.... beep beep beep beep

"Incredible! We have a pulse again!"


... beep beep beep beep beep beep beep .....


'It's a medical miracle!!!!!!'

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