In memoriam: The FCC DDoS attack that never happened

Remember when the U.S. Federal Communications Commission, then considering a since-adopted repeal of Obama-era net neutrality rules, said a DDoS attack shut down its public comment system, then an Inspector General report said that was nonsense? Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI) remembers and during a Senate oversight hearing today he took FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to task for it.

Before we get into the testimony, let’s turn to Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel’s Twitter account for a recap. On Aug. 6 she wrote, “Millions of Americans wrote the @FCC to comment on its misguided effort to roll back #NetNeutrality and overwhelmed its online comment system. The @FCC claimed it was a DDoS attack. And now the agency’s Inspector General says what we knew all along–this claim was bogus.”

Schatz, speaking to Pai, recalled that when the DDoS talking point went public, “The tech community said that doesn’t make any sense…You told Congress a federal crime was committed. Why didn’t you entertain any of those quite reasonable doubts that were out there?”

“I would urge any critics on this issue, read the entire [IG] report,” Pai said, to which Schatz immediately shot back that he has read the entire report. “Senator, I did have doubts,” Pai said.

Net neutrality also came up a number of times. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) theatrically asked Pai if the internet had ceased functioning after the FCC killed Obama-era net neutrality rules to which Pai said, no, still working.

Rosenworcel, on the other hand, pointed out that public anger over the decision has prodded a number of states to consider their own net neutrality-type regulations.

While the hearing was ostensibly focused on the DDoS that never was, Senators used the time to discuss a wide range of issues, including spectrum allocation, funding for and policy related to network infrastructure investments, cybersecurity, the status of Puerto Rican networks following Hurricane Maria and the Lifeline program.




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