The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has been ordered to provide the server logs that may provide new insight into the allegations of fraud stemming from the agency’s 2017 net neutrality law, Gizmodo reported. The information in the server logs could potentially force the FCC to roll back its decision to kill net neutrality.
The case is titled: The New York Times Company v. Federal Communications Commission. It was filed on September 20, 2018, under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The complaint was filed by The New York Times Company, and two of its reporters, Nicholas Confessore and Gabriel Dance.
The beginning part of the complaint is interesting. In it, the plaintiffs note that this litigation “involves records that will shed light on the extent to which Russian nationals and agents of the Russian government have interfered with the agency notice-and-comment process about a topic of extensive public interest: the government’s decision to abandon ‘net neutrality’. Release of the records will help broaden the public’s understanding of the scope of Russian interference in the American democratic system.”
The complaint also notes that “the FCC has thrown up a series of roadblocks, preventing The Times from obtaining the documents.” It also points out that “the FCC responded to The Times attempt to resolve this matter without litigation with protestations that the agency lacked the technical capacity to respond to the request” (among other excuses).
It appears that District Judge Lorna Schofield (a Manhattan federal court judge), wasn’t buying those excuses. Gizmodo reported that the FCC must release the server logs, which may help clarify whether fraudulent activity interfered with the comment period, as well as whether the FCC’s decision-making process is “vulnerable to corruption.”
Judge Schofield also said: “If genuine public comment is drowned out by a fraudulent facsimile, then the notice-and-comment process has failed.”
I expect that once The New York Times gets its hands on the information that it has requested, it won’t be too long until they publish what they found. This could be extremely embarrassing for the FCC, especially if many of the IP addresses that posted a comment connect to people who are not citizens of the United States. If so, perhaps the FCC can be shamed into doing the right thing and restoring net neutrality.