In May of 2017, current Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Ajit Pai made public the first draft of his plan to eliminate net neutrality, sparking a huge wave of public backlash from the American citizens he was supposed to be serving as the unelected head of the FCC.
By law, the FCC system had to utilize a system for the public to weigh-in on the proposal. The entire system that had been set up to allow the public to comment failed almost immediately, once net neutrality supporters began to organize and submit their positions supporting a free and open Internet. The FCC claimed that the system failed due to multiple distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, not because the system itself failed or that (as critics claimed) the FCC began receiving comments that were overwhelmingly supportive of net neutrality enough that they wanted to take it offline to minimize public input that opposed their goals.
The FCC then attempted to lend credibility to their DDoS claims by insisting that the FCC had experienced the very same outage for the very same reasons during the 2014 net neutrality proceedings. There is just one little problem with the claims of Pai’s FCC: those 2014 DDoS attacks simply never happened. While the former CIO of the FCC tried to claim that the 2014 attacks were unknown to the public due to a massive coverup, multiple sources and investigations have illustrated that there was no DDoS attack at all in 2014. After this narrative was revealed to be a complete falsehood, the allegations have since been walked back in yet another example of moral cowardice from these unelected government officials.
“FCC officials who were there at the time said it didn’t happen…independent IT contractors that were hired said it didn’t happen…so if it didn’t happen, it’s hard to have a cover-up for something that didn’t happen,” said Tom Wheeler, former FCC chairman.
For its part, the FCC has brazenly refused to produce any evidence that would substantiate the agency’s claims about the supposed cyber attacks, refusing both FOIA requests and even those requests that have come directly from top U.S. lawmakers in Washington D.C. That being said, reporters have successfully obtained some internal FCC communications and other emails via FOIA requests that show a concerted effort to drive the narrative of the unverifiable DDoS attacks by encouraging reporters to write those stories, despite the complete lack of proof for their claims. By refusing to address questions from Congress or provide evidence that backs up these claims, the FCC has been revealed to be taking part in the very worst kind of “fake news” by encouraging journalists to write stories that they know for a fact are not true.
“We are concerned that you have been unable to give complete responses to verbal questions, questions for the record, or oversight letters from our members,” indicated a statement from U.S. Representatives to Ajit Pai.
The repeal of net neutrality is scheduled to take effect on June 11, 2018, despite the fact that the outage from 2017 is unexplained and is still under investigation. The U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) is also currently investigating the possibility that the FCC’s claims of the DDoS attacks are completely false. Furthermore, the attorney general’s office of New York is investigating fraud in the entire FCC comment system for net neutrality; Pai has reportedly refused multiple requests from the AG’s office soliciting evidence related to the entire case.