Congress is set to grill the FCC's chairman for falsely claiming his agency was hit with a cyberattack — here's how it could affect the war over net neutrality


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai should expect some tough questions at a Senate hearing this week.

Last week, the agency’s inspector general released a report into an incident last year in which the FCC’s servers became unavailable during the comment period over Pai’s repeal of the agency’s net-neutrality rules.

At the time of the outage, Pai and the FCC told Congress and the public that it had been caused by a cyberattack.

The report found no evidence to back that assertion.In fact, investigators believed agency officials made false statements to Congress, and referred the case to federal prosecutors.

The incident could play into a court case filed by activists seeking to overturn Pai’s repeal.

Fight for the Future, the digital rights group that first challenged the FCC’s dubious claims of a DDoS attack, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Deputy Director Evan Greer:

“Ajit Pai is an embarrassment. We knew he was lying about his reasons for killing net neutrality, but now we know his agency also lied to Congress, journalists, and the public about something as serious as a cyber attack. He may well be the Republican party’s biggest liability in the midterm elections. Lawmakers are rightly demanding answers. But they should also act immediately to overrule Ajit Pai’s corrupt gutting of net neutrality, by signing the discharge petition and passing the Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution to reverse the repeal.”


From the article:

As you probably know by now, net neutrality is the principle that all data on the internet should be treated the same.

I guess they forgot to add “except for Alex Jones”.


The issue of “net neutrality” is about categories of data.

Net neutrality is the principle that Internet service providers treat all data on the Internet equally, and not discriminate or charge differently by user, content, website, platform, application, type of attached equipment, or method of communication.[4] For instance, under these principles, internet service providers are unable to intentionally block, slow down or charge money for specific websites and online content. This is sometimes enforced through government mandate. These regulations can be referred to as “common carrier” regulations.[5] This does not block all abilities that Internet service providers have to impact their customer’s services. Opt-in/opt-out services exist on the end user side, and filtering can be done on a local basis, as in the filtration of sensitive material for minors.[6] Net neutrality regulations exist only to protect against misuse.[5]

The term was coined by Columbia University media law professor Tim Wu in 2003, as an extension of the longstanding concept of a common carrier, which was used to describe the role of telephone systems.[7][8][9][10]


Pai is a lawyer by education and an administrator for most of his professional life. He’s not a tech expert. I don’t know the sequence of events, but if his tech people told him it was a cyberattack, he would not have had a good reason to doubt them. Something happened to the system and the article doesn’t tell us what that was. Maybe a mouse short-circuited the system. Maybe it got overloaded.

Congress does, I think, have a legitimate role in inquiring, since the comment period might have been shorter than it should have been. But it would not be legitimate to ask him why he didn’t investigate it personally because that’s not his background.


That’s not what “net neutrality” is. Perhaps you should read up on net neutrality.


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