Democratic Senators Call For The FBI To Investigate FCC Cyber Attack

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Eric Lieberman Deputy Editor

Several senators sent a letter to the FBI Wednesday calling for the Bureau to investigate the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) claims that hackers assaulted its forum for public comment.

“The reported cyberattack on the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System is extremely troubling given that it threatens to stifle the public’s ability to weigh in on these issues,” Democratic Sens. Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Ron Wyden of Oregon, Al Franken of Minnesota and Ed Markey of Massachusetts wrote. “We ask that the FBI prioritize this matter and investigate the source of this attack.”

The FCC originally made an announcement May 8 that a large portion of the comments that were supposed to be addressing rules pertaining to the nebulous principle of net neutrality were delivered through a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

A DDoS assault is when a perpetrator directs several internet-connected devices and the respective unique Internet Protocol (IP) addresses (the numerical label assigned to every device) to targeted online systems, which inundates them.

“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,” reads the FCC’s official press release. “These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC.”

After The Daily Caller News Foundation conducted an investigation, it found that only 44 percent of people from a sample of 10,000 listed as commenters supporting regulations imposed by the FCC under the Obama administration could recall submitting a comment. In contrast, 39 percent denied having submitted a comment, or were unable to recall doing so. Around 17 percent refused to answer the question, or hung up before proper communication. Since people couldn’t remember posting a comment to the FCC’s forum — which purportedly were published only days and weeks before — it likely means they were faked.

Both a nonprofit and a tech publication at least partially corroborated TheDCNF’s investigation that comments supporting both sides of the debate were probably phony. (RELATED: Report: Left-Leaning Policy Group Appears To Have Flooded Net Neutrality Forum With 100,000+ Fake Comments)

While comedian John Oliver certainly sparked extra interest in the technical topic after lambasting the FCC and its plan to unravel internet regulations on his weekly show, the federal agency says the cause of the deluge of public remarks is from a DDoS cyber attack.

However, the FCC’s brief explanation and lack of publicized evidence wasn’t enough for the congressmen.

“Any cyberattack on a federal network is very serious,” the legislators’ letter continues. “This particular attack may have denied the American people the opportunity to contribute to what is supposed to be a fair and transparent process, which in turn may call into question the integrity of the FCC’s rulemaking proceedings.”

The period for public comment forum, which the FCC calls “Restoring Internet Freedom,” will remain open until August.

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