The big picture: The FCC made false claims about DDoS attacks on their website following two John Oliver pieces on net neutrality. The FCC pushed these claims to the press who published them. The FCC then cited these news articles as evidence that the DDoS attacks actually took place.
According to several emails obtained by Gizmodo this week, the FCC fabricated claims of a DDoS attack that supposedly took down their online comment system following a report by John Oliver on net neutrality. In a series of emails obtained through the Freedom of Information Act, FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray is seen pushing the DDoS claims to several members of the media in an attempt to cover up their internal technical issues.
The emails also show that the FCC made similar false claims to the media back in 2014 following John Oliver's first piece on net neutrality. Their claim of a DDoS attack in 2017 was based partly on this 2014 claim as well.
The FCC had a simple plan to make the public outrage towards their policies seem like a malicious attack. They reportedly made up claims of a DDoS attack after thousands of Americans took to their website expressing their views in support of net neutrality. The FCC then fed these claims to some members of the press who published them. The FCC then cited these press reports as proof that the DDoS attacks actually took place.
Former FCC executives, industry contractors, and members of Congress have all called the FCC out on these claims. The FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, has been unable or unwilling to provide proof of any such attack.
Bray responded to the Gizmodo article in a blog post where he maintains the attack did happen, but still does not provide any evidence backing up those claims.
US Representative Frank Pallone Jr. (D- NJ) was "disturbed by press reports that demonstrate a concerted effort by FCC employees to mislead the public in the lead-up to its vote to repeal net neutrality" and is calling on Chairman Pai to "ensure the FCC fully cooperates with GAO's investigation so the American people can finally get a full accounting as to what happened in advance of the agency stripping away critical net neutrality protections."
The investigation continues as Pai and the FCC remain under scrutiny for the millions of fake comments on their website supporting net neutrality. Removing these fake comments showed 98.5% of people opposed the repeal of net neutrality legislation. The FCC Inspector General is also investigating Pai for possible corruption relating to Sinclair Broadcast Group.