FCC claims of DDoS net neutrality attack were ‘bogus’


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, seen here probably realizing that the truth is always the last place you look for it. Like, say, in your giant coffee mug.


Pretty much everyone saw this coming. 

A forthcoming report from the FCC’s Office of Inspector General reportedly dispels earlier dubious claims from the FCC that its comment system was hit by a distributed denial of service attack in May of last year. It turns out, after all, that the commission’s site was likely brought to a crawl not by malicious hackers or pranksters but by — gasp — concerned citizens trying to make their voices heard in support of net neutrality

“The Inspector General Report tells us what we knew all along: the FCC’s claim that it was the victim of a DDoS attack during the net neutrality proceeding is bogus,” reads a statement from FCC commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel. “What happened instead is obvious—millions of Americans overwhelmed our online system because they wanted to tell us how important internet openness is to them and how distressed they were to see the FCC roll back their rights.”

The flood of visitors to the FCC site was possibly due to John Oliver’s call for his viewers to visit a site his show created, gofccyourself.com, which directly linked to the comment page in question. The theory goes that it was these people, not bots sending fake traffic, who overwhelmed the FCC’s site.

Surely bots projected this message onto the side of a building during a 2017 protest in support of net neutrality. Surely.

Surely bots projected this message onto the side of a building during a 2017 protest in support of net neutrality. Surely.

Image: MARI MATSURI/getty

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

Now, of course, FCC chairman Ajit Pai is trying to blame this on former President Barack Obama. Yes, really. 

“With respect to the report’s findings, I am deeply disappointed that the FCC’s former Chief Information Officer (CIO), who was hired by the prior Administration and is no longer with the Commission, provided inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people,” Pai wrote in a statement. “This is completely unacceptable.”

Apparently Pai thinks that explanation will suffice — something that really shouldn’t come as a surprise. After all, someone at the FCC clearly thought we’d buy the DDoS story last year. 

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