07 August 2018

Rule 1 of Today's FCC: Ajit Pai Lies

Rule number 2 is see rule 1:
An investigation carried out by Federal Communication Commission’s own inspector general officially refutes controversial claims that a cyberattack was responsible for disrupting the FCC’s comment system in May 2017, at the height of the agency’s efforts to kill off net neutrality.

The investigation also uncovered that the FCC provided false information to member of Congress regarding advice provided by FBI to the FCC (or not provided) after the incident.

A report from the inspector general’s office (OIG) released Tuesday finds that the comment system issues were not caused by a cyberattack, as the FCC has alleged for over a year, but more likely by a combination of “system design issues” and a massive surge in traffic, which came after Last Week Tonight host John Oliver told millions of TV viewers to flood the FCC’s website with pro-net neutrality comments.

Investigators were unable to “substantiate the allegations of multiple DDoS attacks” alleged by then-FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray, the report says. “At best, the published reports were the result of a rush to judgment and the failure to conduct analyses needed to identify the true cause of the disruption to system availability.”

It continues:
“While we identified a small amount of anomalous activity and could not entirely rule out the possibility of individual DoS attempts during the period from May 7 through May 9, 2017, we do not believe this activity resulted in any measurable degradation of system availability given the minuscule scale of the anomalous activity relative to the contemporaneous voluminous viral traffic.”

The focus of the OIG investigation was initially centered on the allegations that the FCC was targeted by DDoS attacks, the report states. But it eventually shifted after OIG became concerned that three FCC officials may have broken the law by lying to members of Congress.


The OIG report also describes an interview with two FBI employees, one a special agent and another working with the FBI cyber task force in Washington. Both appear to implicate the FCC in providing false information to members of Congress, specifically when describing what the FBI agents and FCC officials discussed following the incident.


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai sought to distance himself from any of the institutional failings described by the inspector general’s report ahead of its release on Monday, placing full blame at the feet of his former chief information officer and his subordinates. In a statement on Monday, Pai accused Bray of providing him with “inaccurate information” about the May 2017 incident, which Pai then personally relayed to members of Congress.

In a June 2017 letter, for example, Pai informed Wyden and Schatz that the FCC’s comment system had been disrupted by a “cyber-based attack.”


“This report shows that the American people were deceived by the FCC and Chairman Pai as they went about doing the bidding of Big Cable,” Sen. Wyden said in a statement late Tuesday. “It appears that maintaining a bogus story about a cyberattack was convenient cover to ignore the voices of millions of people who were fighting to protect a free and open internet.”
Unfortunately, prosecutors have decided not to prosecute, which is a shame, because I'd love to see CIO Bray cop a plea and flip on Pai.


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