A large portion of the public comments filed in the Federal Communications Commission’s network-neutrality docket came from “fake” email domains created by email generator programs, according to the National Legal and Policy Center, which said it has accumulated six CSV files with 1.5 million examples.
The NLPC said its analysis shows that between July 17 and Aug. 4, 5.8 million such “fake” comments were posted in the FCC docket, which had 18.5 million total comments at press time.
The group said the false domains came from a U.S. email generator program at fakemailgenerator.com and include armyspy.com, cuvox.de, dayrep.com, einrot.com, fleckens.hu, gustr.com, jourrapide.com, rhyta.com, superrito.com and teleworm.us.
The net-neutrality docket has been almost as controversial as FCC chair Ajit Pai’s proposal to roll back Title II regulations and review the 2015 Open Internet order’s rules against blocking, throttling and paid prioritization.
The FCC has said the comments system suffered a distributed-denial-of-service attack connected with John Oliver’s May 7 call on his HBO show, Last Week Tonight, for viewers to flood it with comments in support of Title II. Net-neutrality activists have challenged the FCC’s claim, and Hill Democrats have said it needs investigating.
The FCC is also facing lawsuits for not providing more information on the alleged DDoS attacks, which were cited by its CIO, David Bray, in a May 8 statement following the airing.
“Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks,” Bray said. “These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host.”
Just last week, website Gizmodo posted a story questioning the DDoS claims and citing a former FCC security official saying there had been no DDoS attack in 2014, when Oliver made a similar on-air all for Title II and the FCC similarly cited an attack.
Gizmodo has previously said the FCC, in response to an FOIA request, conceded it did not have analysis to support the May assertion of a DDoS attack, though Pai spokesman Brian Hart has said that report was “categorically false.”
Pai has said the FCC will err on the side of transparency, taking the bogus with the bona fide. In either case, the deadline for comments is Aug. 30. The FCC will continue to accept comments past that date, but does not have to factor them into its decision.
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