Lawmakers Call For Review Of Cybersecurity At FCC

An influx of fake comments about net neutrality, combined with the Federal Communications Commission's recent website crash, has spurred two lawmakers to call for an independent investigation of the agency's cybersecurity practices.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Frank Pallone (D-New Jersey) say in a letter to the U.S. Comptroller General that they are concerned by the FCC's "lack of action in preventing or mitigating" the apparent cybersecurity glitches.

The lawmakers specifically refer to a crash at the FCC's site on May 8 the same night that HBO comedian John Oliver urged viewers to oppose the agency's plans to gut the net neutrality rules.

The FCC said the crash was the result of a denial-of-service attack, but the lawmakers say the agency hasn't provided evidence to confirm the attack.

"As a result, questions remain about the attack itself and more generally about the state of security at the FCC," they write.

Schatz and Pallone also point to the highly publicized influx of fake comments about the proposed net neutrality rollback, stating that the deluge of fake comments "undermines this critical component of the FCC's rule-making process."

"Taken together, these situations raise serious questions about how the public makes its thoughts known to the FCC and how the FCC develops the record it uses to justify decisions reached by the agency," they write.

They are asking for the General Accountability Office to investigate a host of matters, including how the FCC determined that the crash on May 8 was the result of a denial-of-service attack.

The FCC's 2015 net neutrality order classified broadband access as a "telecommunications" service and imposed common-carrier obligations on broadband providers. The regulations prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or degrading traffic, and from engaging in paid prioritization.

Pai has proposed reclassifying broadband as an information service -- a move that could also deprive the FCC of authority to stop broadband providers from throttling or blocking material, or from engaging in paid prioritization.

The proposal has already drawn a record 20 million comments -- although it's not yet clear how many of them came from bots.

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