Dems: FCC DDoS Attack Raises Cybersecurity Questions

If the FCC was subject to multiple DDoS attacks that affected input in the Open Internet comment docket, leading House Democrats say that raises questions about the FCC's cybersecurity preparedness that need answers.

That came in letters to the FCC and National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center.

"We ask you to examine these serious problems and irregularities that raise doubts about the fairness, and perhaps even the legitimacy, of the FCC’s process in its net neutrality proceeding,” the Democratic legislators said. “Giving the public an opportunity to comment in an open proceeding such as this one is crucial—so that the FCC can consider the full impact of its proposals, and treat everyone who would be affected fairly.”

Related: FCC Looks to Provide Privacy Reporting Reminder

Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Brian Schatz of Hawaii had asked Pai for an explanation of the attacks. But the response—that they were “non-traditional” attacks—only created new questions, the letters to the FCC and NCCIC said.

That includes:

• "What 'additional solutions' is the FCC pursuing to 'further protect the system,' as was mentioned in the FCC’s response?
• "According to the FCC, the alleged cyberattacks blocked 'new human visitors … from visiting the comment filing system.' Yet, the FCC, consulting with the FBI, determined that 'the attack did not rise to the level of a major incident that would trigger further FBI involvement.' What analysis did the FCC and the FBI conduct to determine that this was not a 'major incident?'
• "What specific 'hardware resources' will the FCC commit to accommodate people attempting to file comments during high-profile proceedings? Does the FCC have sufficient resources for that purpose?
• "Is the FCC making alternative ways available for members of the public to file comments in the net neutrality proceeding?"

Related: Analysis: Majority of FCC Comments Favor Repealing Internet Rules

Signing on to the letters were Energy and Commerce Ranking Member Frank Pallone, Jr. (N.J.), Oversight and Government Reform (OGR) ranking member Elijah Cummings (Md.), E&C Communications and Technology Subcommittee Ranking Member Mike Doyle (Pa.), Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee ranking member Diana DeGette (Colo.), OGR Information Technology Subcommittee ranking member Robin Kelly (Ill.), and Government Operations Subcommittee ranking member Gerald Connolly (Va.)

Some of the same Dems have asked Republican leadership of the House E&C to hold a hearing on the web issues.

And last month, another group of Democrats called on the FBI to investigate the multiple DDoS attacks the FCC said it had suffered related to the docket.

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.