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Revealed: FCC fed reporters bogus info about “attack” on net neutrality comments system

Revealed: FCC fed reporters bogus info about “attack” on net neutrality comments system
[Photo: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons]

The FCC has long been accused of manufacturing the story of a denial of service (DDOS) hack attack on its public comment system, where during 2017 the public registered their opinions on the agency’s plan to dismantle net neutrality rules passed under the Obama administration. Polls showed Americans were and are strongly supportive of net neutrality protections, which prevent behemoth broadband providers like Verizon from discriminately blocking, slowing, or speeding internet traffic.

The story of a sudden DDOS attack on the FCC’s comment server last spring appeared to be a way for the FCC to muddy the waters and make it seem like there weren’t millions of people telling the agency not to roll back the rules. And to make it seem less offensive that, even in the face of such widespread opposition, the agency–under the leadership of Trump-appointed ex-Verizon attorney Ajit Pai–went ahead and gutted net neutrality anyway.

The FCC has refused to provide hard evidence of the alleged DDOS attack, despite repeated requests by journalists and more than a few lawmakers. But new documents released under the Freedom of Information Act strongly suggest that FCC IT and public affairs officials fed journalists false information to bolster its DDOS story. The documents show FCC staffers telling journalists that its DDOS attack is nothing new–that a similar DDOS attack had struck the comment server in 2014. That story is contradicted by current and former FCC officials, and the agency has offered no proof that a 2014 attack occurred.

The whole comments server saga gives the public a clear view of the way a once non-partisan agency operates in the age of Trump. Pai and his underlings have been caught in a lie here, and the possibility that they ginned up the story about the DDOS attack on the comment server in 2017 becomes far more likely. The clear message is: the truth doesn’t matter and the public’s will doesn’t matter.

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