Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Fake People, Not Fake News

Most Federal agencies are required to solicit feedback from the public before making any significant change in regulation.  When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was preparing to eliminate net-neutrality, they first solicited public opinion.  Afterwards, it was discovered that about a tenth of the opinions expressed were bogus.  Many people were surprised to learn they had written a letter.  Even dead people wrote letters to the FCC!  All of these fake letters opposed net-neutrality.

The Department of Labor is now soliciting opinions on the Fiduciary Rule, which would require financial advisors to act in the best interests of their clients for retirement accounts.  Again, fake letters are now showing up.  So far, 20 of the 345 letters audited by the Wall Street Journal are bogus.  All were opposed to the Fiduciary Rule.  The 20 alleged writers were surprised to learn that they wrote a letter on a subject they didn't understand.  How would you feel if your name had been signed to a letter you didn't write?

The question begged is:  who is doing this?

Since Democrats generally favor net-neutrality and the Fiduciary Rule, it would be convenient to suggest the Republicans are behind these fake letters, but that ignores the many foreign players.  Not even the "Area 51" wing-nuts would stoop to fraud, in order to win at all costs, would they?

What's the point of soliciting comments if they are fraudulent?  It is just another nail in the coffin of democracy.  If somebody would sign somebody else's name to a letter, why wouldn't they mail in absentee ballots?  These are NOT victimless crimes -- no more victimless than the Russians hacking our election.

All of us are the victims.