Dems question FCC's claim of cyberattack during net neutrality comment period

Dems question FCC's claim of cyberattack during net neutrality comment period
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A pair of Democratic senators are demanding answers from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on a 2017 cyberattack following a media report raising questions about the agency’s official story.

Sens. Brian SchatzBrian Emanuel SchatzEmanuel to take hot seat in Senate confirmation hearing Defense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' MORE (D-Hawaii) and Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDemocrats narrow scope of IRS proposal amid GOP attacks Democrats scramble for climate alternatives Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed MORE (D-Ore.) sent FCC Chairman Ajit Pai a list of questions about an incident last year during which the agency’s comment-filing website was taken offline after the late-night comedian John Oliver urged his audience to flood it with pro-net neutrality comments.

At first, it appeared that a mass filing of submissions caused the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) to crash, but the FCC later said the site was taken down by a cyberattack.

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“[H]ave any subsequent FCC or third-party (e.g., vendor, contractor, or government agency) analyses or investigations verified that a cyberattack on ECFS occurred in 2017 and, if so, that the attack is best classified as a [distributed denial of service] attack?” the senators wrote in their letter. “If not, why was no investigation conducted? Please provide any and all reports, findings, and other relevant details of any such investigations.”

A spokeswoman for the FCC did not immediately respond when asked for comment.

The letter comes as the FCC's controversial move to rescind the Obama-era net neutrality rules officially takes effect.

Last week, Gizmodo released a report questioning the official story of a cyberattack in 2017 as well as a claim that the ECFS had suffered an earlier one in 2014 after another Oliver segment. Pai has said he relied on an assessment from the FCC’s chief information officer, David Bray, who has since left the agency.

Schatz and Wyden asked that Pai respond to their questions by June 27.