The fight over internet access is now becoming a major campaign issue – more than two months after 25 Investigates uncovered thousands of Massachusetts residents had their identities stolen and used to lobby the government to do away with rules designed to protect internet customers.
U.S. Senator Ed Markey is leading the charge to bring back so-called “net neutrality.”
But even if the Massachusetts Democrat gets the votes he needs in the Senate, the U.S. House and President Trump aren’t expected to go along with it.
Before the Federal Communications Commission got rid of its net neutrality rules, providers were barred from blocking or slowing down internet access to certain websites, videos, social media, email or any other service online.
Markey wants lawmakers to reverse the recent FCC vote to do away with net neutrality.
But he also spoke to Boston 25 News and pledged to take his fight to Election Day.
“We’re going to have an incredible election this November,” said Markey. “I wouldn’t want to be a member of the House or Senate who voted not to protect net neutrality. We’re going to put everyone on record.”
In December, 25 Investigates tracked down dozens of people in Massachusetts, who had their names and addresses linked to fake comments lobbying the FCC against net neutrality rules.
25 Investigates: Thousands of Mass. IDs stolen to lobby for more expensive internet
Many of the victims – including a 13-year-old North Shore boy, a Lexington realtor, a marketing professional from Jamaica Plain and the wife of U.S. Congressman Michael Capuano – were all unaware someone had used their names and addresses to urge the FCC to get rid of so-called net neutrality protections until 25 Investigates contacted them.
“I would never have done this and I'm really angry that someone would use my name,” said Barbara Capuano – wife of U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, D-Somerville – at the time.
Capuano said she never wrote the online comment to the FCC, stating the current internet system is “threatening innovation” and calling for the “roll back” of net neutrality protections.
Her name and thousands of other Massachusetts identities were used to demand the FCC get rid of net neutrality.
And that’s exactly what the FCC did in December.
Attorney General Maura Healey is now suing the FCC, citing some of the fake comments 25 Investigates uncovered.
Another government agency – the Federal Trade Commission – won a victory this week for internet customers.
The FTC sued AT&T in 2014 over slowed down internet speeds. The wireless provider tried to get that lawsuit thrown out, but on Monday, the court ruled the FTC still has the authority to protect customers and the lawsuit can continue.
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