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Lawmakers ask Ajit Pai about false DDoS claims

A handful of Democratic lawmakers have some questions for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai regarding claims of a DDoS attack that the Inspector General recently concluded were false. Specifically, they want to know when Pai became aware that disruption to the a...

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FCC accused of ‘dereliction of duty’ in failing to dispel cyberattack ‘myth’

Following the issuance of a report from the FCC’s Inspector General essentially saying the reports of cyberattacks on the agency were made up out of whole cloth, several lawmakers are demanding answers from Chairman Ajit Pai. The report, published last week , reveals that the narrative of an attack against the FCC’s comment system — a narrative the agency has propped up for over a year — had no evidence to support it. The comment system, the record indicates, was simply overwhelmed by people hammering it after becoming aware of net neutrality issues and how they could make their voice heard. Net neutrality activists, not hackers, crashed the FCC’s comment system Part of this long-lived mistake was, necessarily, making false statements to the public and Congress, since the latter repeatedly requested more information on the purported attacks. Although federal prosecutors declined to pursue this infraction, the members of Congress to whom Pai repeatedly told untruths have indicated they are not likely to forgive and forget. Representatives Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Mike Doyle (D-PA), Jerry McNerney (D-CA) and Debbie Dingell (D-MI) sent a letter (PDF) to Ajit Pai today admonishing him and his office for their failure. Pallone and Doyle particularly have been nipping at the chairman’s heels almost constantly since he took the job, so they have extra cause to be angered by his actions. Given the significant media, public, and Congressional attention this alleged cyberattack received for over a year, it is hard to believe that the release of the IG’s Report was the first time that you and your staff realized that no cyberattack occurred. Such ignorance would signify a dereliction of your duty as the head of the FCC, particularly due to the severity of the allegations and the blatant lack of evidence. It is troubling that you allowed the public myth created by the FCC to persist and your misrepresentations to remain uncorrected for over a year… To the extent that you were aware of the misrepresentations prior to the release of the Report and failed to correct them, such actions constitute a wanton disregard for Congress and the American public. Chairman Pai does have a legitimate excuse to a certain extent in that the FCC’s Office of the Inspector General had requested that the agency keep quiet about its investigation while it was ongoing. So we may fairly say that Pai and his office may have in some ways had their hands tied.

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Speedier broadband standards? Pai’s FCC says 25Mbps is fast enough

Enlarge (credit: Jan Fabre ) The Federal Communications Commission is proposing to maintain the US broadband standard at the current level of 25Mbps downstream and 3Mbps upstream. That's the speed standard the FCC uses each year to determine whether advanced telecommunications capabilities are "being deployed to all Americans in a reasonable and timely fashion." The FCC raised the standard from 4Mbps/1Mbps to 25Mbps/3Mbps in January 2015 under then-Chairman Tom Wheeler. Ajit Pai, who was then a commissioner in the FCC's Republican minority, voted against raising the speed standard. Read 21 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Tribune sues Sinclair for $1B after spiking merger under FCC pressure

Media giants Sinclair and Tribune were all set to merge and create one of the country’s biggest broadcasters — and a complacent FCC seemed to be doing everything it could to help the deal along. But the regulator had a change of heart after evidence surfaced of duplicity too serious to be ignored, and the resultant red tape and bad PR provoked Tribune into spiking the deal and suing its would-be acquirer for $1 billion. The FCC, which until recently had been accused of being overly chummy with broadcasters , Sinclair in particular, last month issued a “de facto merger death sentence” to the deal , citing mounds of evidence that the company was shirking the terms of the merger and lying about it. The legal process of working out these issues with a view to approving the merger might have taken years. Tribune wasn’t having that, and moved quickly to throw Sinclair under the bus. In a statement posted to the company’s website, the company wrote that “Sinclair’s entire course of conduct has been in blatant violation of the Merger Agreement and, but for Sinclair’s actions, the transaction could have closed long ago.” The legal complaint published simultaneously goes into further detail: From virtually the moment the Merger Agreement was signed, Sinclair repeatedly and willfully breached 3 its contractual obligations in spectacular fashion… Sinclair fought, threatened, insulted, and misled regulators in a misguided and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to retain control over stations that it was obligated to sell. The damage, it asserts, amounts to a round $1 billion. This merger failing can hardly be considered as anything but good news to consumers; as former counsel at the FCC Gigi Sohn put it: This transaction had but two supporters – Sinclair and Tribune. It was opposed by large and small cable companies, rural broadband providers, conservative cable channels and the public interest community. Chairman Pai and his colleagues did right by the American people and the entire broadcast industry by putting the brakes on this merger. The ACLU’s Jacob Hutt was even less diplomatic: This was a terrible idea to begin with. The merger would have trampled on First Amendment principles, crippled the future of journalism, and disproportionately harmed minority communities. We thank the thousands of activists that raised their voices to prevent the damage this deal would have done

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Ajit Pai admits FCC lied about “DDoS,” blames it on Obama administration

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai at Fox Studios on November 10, 2017 in New York City. (credit: Getty Images | John Lamparski ) Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai yesterday acknowledged that the FCC lied about its public comment system being taken down by a DDoS attack during the net neutrality repeal proceeding. Pai blamed the spreading of false information on employees hired by the Obama administration, and said that he isn't to blame because he "inherited... a culture" from "the prior Administration" that led to the spreading of false information. Pai wrote: I am deeply disappointed that the FCC's former Chief Information Officer David Bray, who was hired by the prior Administration and is no longer with the Commission, provided inaccurate information about this incident to me, my office, Congress, and the American people. This is completely unacceptable. I'm also disappointed that some working under the former CIO apparently either disagreed with the information that he was presenting or had questions about it, yet didn't feel comfortable communicating their concerns to me or my office." Pai's admission came in a statement yesterday. "It has become clear that in addition to a flawed comment system, we inherited from the prior Administration a culture in which many members of the Commission's career IT staff were hesitant to express disagreement with the Commission's former CIO in front of FCC management," he also said. Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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