Officials in the Federal Communications Commission “misled the public” that a distributed denial-of-service-attack disrupted the organization’s website shortly before a 2017 vote to repeal net neutrality, a New Jersey congressman said.
In a statement on June 5, Rep. Frank Pallone Jr., D-N.J., Pallone demanded “a full accounting as to what happened in advance of the agency stripping away critical net neutrality protections.”
The claim escalated a months-long feud between Democrats and the FCC over alleged false statements and the public’s ability to comment over changes to net neutrality.
The news website Gizmodo reviewed emails that it said showed how the FCC “purposely misled” news organizations in response to claims over a “fake cyberattack.”
The saga began on May 7, 2017. After the HBO show “Last Week Tonight” urged its audience to file public complaints and protect net neutrality, the response was overwhelming by all accounts. The FCC’s website experienced significant delays. The next day, the FCC’s then chief information officer, David Bray, claimed the lag was over denial-of-service-attacks.
The FCC has not provided evidence to support its claim. The agency rolled back its net neutrality protections in 2017.
On June 5, Bray doubled down on his accusation that the agency’s slowdown was caused by a DDoS attack. “Something odd was happening in May 2017,” Bray wrote in a Medium post. He no longer works at the commission.
But statements from current and former FCC officials have not appeased Democrats.
The FCC has become “less transparent” amid inquiries into the May, 2017, incident, Pallone and Rep. Mike Doyle, D-Pa., wrote in a June 5 letter to Republicans. The FCC “must be brought before the Committee to account for its repeated and willful evasiveness.”