FCC admits its comment system never suffered DDoS attack

FCC chair Ajit Pai released a statement about the FCC website crashing placing blame on the former CIO an Obama administration appointee

Pai made the statement ahead of an Inspector General's report about its investigation into the sham DDoS attack.

FCC chairman Ajit Pai, in fine form, was quick to point the finger of blame elsewhere, saying in a written response that Summerlin and deputy chief information officer Christine Calvosa had both assured him, as had Bray, "that this incident had been caused by bots rather than individuals attempting to file comments with the Commission". "This is completely unacceptable".

Pai goes on to say that some employees working under said CIO "disagreed" with the information he presented to the FCC but didn't "feel comfortable" communicating their concerns with leadership.

Bray, the "former CIO" not mentioned by name in the statement, served at the FCC from 2013 until June 2017.

When contacted by Fast Company, a representative for People-Centered Internet, a San Francisco-based group where Bray now serves as executive director, said Bray had not been contacted by the OIG. "On the other hand, I'm pleased that this report debunks the conspiracy theory that my office or I had any knowledge that the information provided by the former CIO was inaccurate and was allowing that inaccurate information to be disseminated for political purposes".

Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel put out a similarly strident statement.


There's no evidence that the Federal Communications Commission's website was deliberately attacked when millions of people sought to post comments about the agency's then-proposed rollback of net neutrality rules and the agency misled members of Congress about what really happened, according to a newly released report from the FCC's inspector general confirms there's no evidence that the FCC's website was deliberately attacked when millions of people sought to post comments about the agency's then-proposed rollback of net neutrality rules and alleges the agency misled members of Congress about what happened.

"It's unfortunate that this agency's energy and resources needed to be spent debunking this implausible claim", Rosenworcel's statement continued.

The broadband watchdog's own inspector general will any day now release its findings into the outage, and confirm what many people had suspected all along: the May 2017 downtime affecting the USA regulator's Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) was the result of actual netizens flooding the comment page with pro-net-neutrality comments - and not, as the FCC alleged, an automated attempt to crash the site. The agency experienced a rush of traffic shortly thereafter. The report also said that despite describing the event as a cyberattack, the FCC failed to follow the established cybersecurity policies that are routine in the aftermath of such an event. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it hard for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC.

The conclusion of the report is here: "The May 7-8, 2016 degradation of the FCC's ECFS was not, as reported to the public and to Congress, the result of a DDoS attack". Months before the event, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai formulated an official proposal that would roll back the Obama-era neutrality rules. Since then various members of Congress has become involved, even asking the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Government Accountability Office to look into the issue. It had also tried to bolster its false claims by suggesting that this wasn't the first such incident as the FCC had suffered a similar attack in 2014 under the former chairman Tom Wheeler.

When John Oliver urged viewers of "Last Week Tonight" on May 7, 2017, to file net neutrality comments to the FCC's website, the system was soon overwhelmed. Previously, Bray had said this incident was merely a weakness in the agency's legacy systems - legacy systems that he, as CIO, was intent on overhauling.

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