Pai noted in a court filing that most of the comments were in favour of net neutrality, which the FCC repealed last December.
The New York Times and BuzzFeed News have filed freedom of information requests in the hopes of uncovering the extent of fraudulent comments and Russian influence in the net neutrality process. Pai's filing was part of an FCC memorandum that addressed the requests, and the agency has argued that releasing the data could expose the US to cyberattacks.
However while Pai's concession backs his stance on ignoring public consultation in favour of lobbying from corporate monopolies with big budgets and infinite drinks cabinets, it has opened yet another can of worms.
For a long time, Donald [Prince of Orange] Trump has insisted that the Russians were not manipulating elections in his favour. Pai's admission shows that Russia's influence on US democracy extends beyond headline-grabbing election interference and fake news peddling, and it also reflects the litany of issues the FCC faced during the net neutrality comment period.
Over half of the almost 22 million comments came from phony, temporary or duplicate email addresses, according to a study, and reportedly only 17.4 percent of the comments were unique. With those numbers 500,000 hits is not that high and it is hard to see what the Russians would get out of it.