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A non-profit organization is asking for proof that the Federal Communications Commission was hit by several distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks after John Oliver once again rallied the internet to save the open internet on Sunday night.
Fight for the Future, an internet advocacy organization, launched the petition because the cyber-attack occurred at the same time that many people were trying to comment on its website following Oliver’s plea for people to save net neutrality, they said.
The organization is demanding that the FCC release evidence that a DDoS attack occurred.
“Whatever happened on Sunday night—whether it was a DDoS attack as the FCC claims or something else—it occurred at a time when huge numbers of people would have been commenting in support of net neutrality, which means that it effectively silenced a ton of people speaking out in support of a free and open Internet,” Evan Greer, a campaign director at Fight for the Future, told the Daily Dot in an email. “The public needs to know what really happened here.”
Oliver has been known to rally the internet masses when it comes to net neutrality—a founding principle of the internet that requires internet service providers (ISPs) to treat all data on a level playing field for their customers. The FCC’s website crashed after Oliver’s first segment aired in 2014.
Three years ago, Oliver asked people to flood the FCC’s website with comments in support of net neutrality—and it worked. But once again, net neutrality is in the cross-hairs.
The new head of the FCC, Ajit Pai, has suggested moving the internet’s regulation from Title II of the Communications Act to Title I, which would eliminate the FCC’s ability to force ISPs to abide by net neutrality rules.
“There is no net neutrality without Title II,” Greer said. “The ISPs are doing everything they can to turn this into a partisan circus and fool people into thinking that Title II somehow amounts to ‘government regulation of the Internet,’ which couldn’t be further from the truth.”
On Monday, the FCC said in a statement that it was subject to “multiple” DDoS attacks that “bombarded the FCC’s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host.” The timing of the attacks occurred just after Oliver’s Last Week Tonight aired late Sunday. During the episode, Oliver announced the creation of a new URL, gofccyourself.com, which directs visitors directly to the FCC’s obscure commenting portal.
The alleged attacks made it “difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC,” the agency said.
The FCC did not respond to a request for comment by the Daily Dot.
The Fight for the Future petition, which has garnered 7,000 signatures so far, according to Greer, seems to imply that DDoS attack is a way of “covering up” the fact that the FCC website cannot handle large volumes of commenters in support of net neutrality.
“Why won’t the FCC release that evidence? Is it because it doesn’t exist? Or because it shows that an anti-net neutrality astroturf group was behind the attack?” Greer said. “The bottom line is that we don’t know because the FCC is refusing to release this information. They’ve been lying to us about net neutrality for months. We’re not just going to accept these claims of a DDoS without seeing some receipts.”
The petition is important, Greer said, because the FCC’s comment section is an important tool for people to voice their concerns over the fate of net neutrality.
“The internet is a crucial part of many of our lives,” Greer said. “The FCC’s actions will have a profound impact on hundreds of millions of people. Those people deserve to have a say.”
Watch Oliver’s segment here:
Andrew Wyrich is a politics staff writer for the Daily Dot, covering the intersection of politics and the internet. Andrew has written for USA Today, NorthJersey.com, and other newspapers and websites. His work has been recognized by the Society of the Silurians, Investigative Reporters & Editors (IRE), and the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ).