Two Democratic senators expressed concerns to the Federal Communications Commission that the agency will not be able to handle a flood of pro-net neutrality comments on the “Day of Action” on Wednesday.
In a letter submitted Friday, Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, urged FCC Chairman Ajit Pai to find temporary and alternative measures to ensure the comments can be submitted without technical problems.
Wyden and Schatz’s concerns stem from a May 8 “non-traditional DDoS attack” that crippled the FCC’s Electronic Comment Filing System.
“It is critical to the rulemaking and regulatory process that the public be able to take part without unnecessary technical or administrative burden,” Wyden and Schatz wrote. “The FCC must be able to accept all comments filed to ensure that all voices are heard.”
More than 180 internet companies and organizations are participating in Wednesday’s “Day of Action,” during which they will urge customers to pressure the FCC to drop its proposed repeal of Obama-era net neutrality regulations. Big Silicon Valley companies such as Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter are among the participants.
In May, the FCC experienced its first net neutrality-related comment avalanche after comedian John Oliver urged his viewers to comment on the FCC’s website to stop the repeal. Shortly after Oliver’s show, the FCC website became hard to access, which the agency said was because of DDoS attacks from unidentified hackers.
“These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves,” said FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray in a statement after the attacks. “Rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC.”
The proposed rollback of the rules has already received 5 million comments, more than any proceedings in FCC history. Organizers expect millions more.
Wyden and Schatz wrote that they hoped the FCC had backup plans for people to comment on Wednesday if the website goes down in a DDoS attack or a different kind of cyberattack.
“In case the ECFS is disabled through some new type of attack, it is critical that Americans be able to file a comment using other means.”
Wyden and Schatz requested that the FCC respond by Tuesday.
Photo: Occupy Oakland protesters demonstrate for net neutrality at Google headquarters in Mountain View in June 2014. (Patrick Tehan/Bay Area News Group)