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Patty Duke’s Name Fraudulently Used to Oppose Net Neutrality, Son Says

Supporters of Net Neutrality have raised concerns that the public commentary process was tainted by fake responses

Actor Mackenzie Astin, son of Oscar-winning actress Patty Duke, says his mother’s name appeared in three different comments, posted to the FCC’s website in 2017 that advocated the repeal of net neutrality regulations. The problem: she died in 2016.

“Hey, @AjitPaiFCC, today my mom would have turned 71. But she didn’t. Because she died in March of 2016,” Astin tweeted Thursday afternoon. “Can you please take the time to explain to me how she made three separate comments in support of ending #NetNeutrality more than a year after she died?”

Astin also included a screenshot of another comment from a different user, the content of which was identical to two comments attributed to his mother.

In the days before Thursday’s FCC vote to repeal Net Neutrality regulations, concerns were raised about the large number of the statements in support of repeal, posted during the mandatory public commentary period, that appeared to be composed by bots, or using names of fictional, or dead people.

The issue was alarming enough that FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, joined by several members of Congress including a Republican, called on the FCC to postpone the vote on Net Neutrality to investigate the possible fraud. The majority-Republican FCC refused to postpone, and no official investigation will take place. But since repeal passed, Twitter users have been posting examples of what they say are fraudulent comments, including Astin.

Leading up to the repeal vote, an overwhelming majority of U.S. consumers didn’t support changing net neutrality. A recent University of Maryland study found 83 percent of Americans — including three out of four Republicans — were against lifting the 2015 rules. A record near-22 million comments were submitted to the FCC over the summer, with 60 percent pushing back against plans to repeal.