Two U.S. senators sent a letter to the FCC Chairman Ajit Pai on Tuesday requesting details regarding the Commission’s statement that it suffered multiple distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on its comment system starting on Sunday night.
“DDoS attacks against federal agencies are serious – and doubly so if the attack may have prevented Americans from being able to weigh in on your proposal to roll back net neutrality protections,” Senators Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) say in the letter. “Any potentially hostile cyber activities that prevent Americans from being able to participate in a fair and transparent process must be treated as a serious issue. As such, we ask you keep Congress fully briefed as to your investigation.”
FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray said on Monday the attacks started around midnight the previous night. And as has been widely reported, those attacks reportedly happened swiftly after comedian John Oliver urged his “Last Week Tonight” viewers to use the FCC’s comment filing system to express their opinions about Pai’s recent comments around rolling back the Commission’s 2015’s net neutrality rules.
Wyden and Schatz requested in their letter that the FCC make available alternative ways for people to comment on net neutrality such as a dedicated email account. They also asked the Commission provide (by June 8) specific timing details about the attacks, and any evidence it may have about who might have been responsible. Further, they tasked the FCC with providing information about whether it has sought assistance from other federal agencies in investigating the attacks, whether it uses commercial services to protect its website, and whether the site has been stress-tested to cope with the number of visitors originally intended.
“Did the DDoS attacks prevent the public from being able to submit comments through the FCC’s website?” Wyden and Schatz ask. “If so, do you have an estimate of how many individuals were unable to access the FCC website or submit comments during the attack? Were any comments lost or otherwise affected?”
Digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future is suggesting that the FCC is actually wrong, or is even “lying” about the nature of the DDoS attacks. More on that claim is available here.
Filed Under: Industry regulations