FCC's Claim that Site was DDoS Attacked During John Oliver's Viral Net Neutrality Segment Raises Questions

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Evan Greer, press@fightforthefuture.org, 978-852-6457

FCC's Claim that Site was DDoS Attacked During John Oliver's Viral Net Neutrality Segment Raises Questions

Fight for the Future calls for the agency to release its logs to an independent analyst, guarantee that all comments will be counted

WASHINGTON - The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has issued a press release claiming that it’s website was hit with a DDoS attack at the exact same time that comments would have started flooding in from John Oliver’s viral Last Week Tonight segment about net neutrality on Sunday night. The media widely reported that the surge in comments from the segment crashed the FCC’s site, which also happened several times during the massive grassroots mobilization that led to the current FCC rules in 2014 and 2015.

Fight for the Future, a leading digital rights group that has organized some of the largest actions in support of net neutrality, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Campaign Director Evan Greer (pronouns: she/hers:)

“The FCC’s statement today raises a lot of questions, and the agency should act immediately to ensure that voices of the public are not being silenced as it considers a move that would affect every single person that uses the Internet.

There are two possible scenarios and they are both concerning:

  1. FCC is being intentionally misleading, and trying to claim that the surge in traffic from large numbers of people attempting to access following John Oliver’s segment amounts to a “DDoS” attack, in order to let themselves off the hook for essentially silencing large numbers of people by not having a properly functioning site to receive comments from the public about an important issue, or

  2. Someone actually did DDoS the FCC’s site at the exact same time as John Oliver’s segment, in order to actively prevent people from commenting in support of keeping the Title II net neutrality rules that millions of people fought for in 2015.

Given Ajit Pai’s open hostility toward net neutrality, and the telecom industry’s long history of astroturfing and paying shady organizations to do their dirty work, either of these scenarios should be concerning for anyone who cares about government transparency, free speech, and the future of the Internet.

The FCC should immediately release its logs to an independent security analyst or major news outlet to verify exactly what happened last night. The public deserves to know, and the FCC has a responsibility to maintain a functioning website and ensure that every member of the public who wants to submit a comment about net neutrality has the ability to do so. Anything less is a subversion of our democracy.”

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

Fight for the Future was instrumental in the massive grassroots campaign that successfully pushed the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to enact the strongest net neutrality protections in US. history last year. They built the page BattleForTheNet.com, which was responsible for more than ¼ of all the net neutrality comments received by the FCC during its feedback process, and were behind the Internet Slowdown protest, which was supported by more than 40,000 websites including some of the largest on the Web like Kickstarter, Etsy, Netflix, and Tumblr.  

The group also helped take the fight for net neutrality into the streets with creative protest campaigns like Occupy the FCC and the nationwide Internet Emergency protests.

Fight for the Future is best known for their role in the massive online protests against SOPA, the Stop Online Piracy Act, and continues to organize many of the largest protests in the history of the Internet. Over the summer, they organized the high profile Rock Against the TPP tour featuring many celebrities and well known musicians. Learn more at FightFortheFuture.org

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Fight for the Future is dedicated to protecting and expanding the Internet's transformative power in our lives by creating civic campaigns that are engaging for millions of people.

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