Tags: Cyber Security | Trump Administration | gizmodo | fcc | emails | cyberattack

Gizmodo: Emails Show FCC Spread Lies to Bolster False Claims of Attack

Gizmodo: Emails Show FCC Spread Lies to Bolster False Claims of Attack
FCC Chairman Ajit Pai (Alex Wong/Getty Images)

By    |   Tuesday, 05 June 2018 03:16 PM

The Federal Communications Commission purposely misled several news organizations last year, giving journalists false information in an effort to counter speculation senior officials manufactured a cyberattack to explain away technical problems plaguing the FCC's comment system, Gizmodo reported Tuesday.

According to Gizmodo, internal emails obtained by the American Oversight watchdog group under the Freedom of Information Act show the FCC took these actions amid its high-profile collection of public comments on the controversial and since-passed plan to overturn federal net neutrality rules.

The FCC has refused to produce any evidence an attack occurred, including to congressmen who demanded it, and instead carried out a campaign to bolster its story by using friendly and easily duped reporters to spread word of an earlier cyberattack during the Obama administration that its own security staff say never happened.

The controversy began when the FCC's system was overwhelmed May 7, 2017, after comedian John Oliver asked his audience to flood the agency with comments supporting net neutrality.

The FCC said the comment system had been impaired on purpose due to a series of distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDoS), but net neutrality supporters accused the agency of fabricating the attack so it would not have to explain why it failed to keep the system online.

The system similarly crashed after Oliver ordered his viewers in 2014 to the FCC website, which at the time was led by Democrat Tom Wheeler. Wheeler did not blame a malicious attack for the system's downtime.

But last May, under the Trump-appointed chairman, Ajit Pai, at least two FCC officials pushed a false account of the 2014 incident as a way to convince reporters the comment system had long been the target of DDoS attacks, even claiming Wheeler had covered it up, because if the FCC publicly admitted there was an attack, it would encourage "copycats."

But Gigi Sohn, a former counselor to Wheeler, called that allegation completely false and said there was not proof at all it was a DDoS attack.

Fight for the Future, a group advocating to save net neutrality, called the emails a "smoking gun."

The group emphasized it was clear "The FCC lied to reporters and to Congress in order to obscure the fact that they utterly failed to maintain a legitimate public comment process, as they are legally required to do, in their net neutrality repeal proceeding."

Fight for the Future called on Congress "to reverse the agency's illegitimate and unpopular decision," adding that "Voters from across the political spectrum overwhelmingly oppose the gutting of net neutrality. No one wants their cable company controlling what they can see and do on the Internet."

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The Federal Communications Commission purposely misled several news organizations last year, Gizmodo reported Tuesday.
gizmodo, fcc, emails, cyberattack
Tuesday, 05 June 2018 03:16 PM
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