FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has released a new statement following a recent investigation into problems experienced with the Electronic Comment Filing System (ECFS) it maintains. The investigation was started after the agency reportedly suffered a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack back in May of 2017 which resulted in the tool becoming intermittently unavailable to the public. The ECFS is effectively a comment and analysis system used to garner public opinion and feedback in order to give the general populous a means by which to participate in key FCC policies. The problems with the site occurred during the leadup to the repeal of title II net neutrality regulations, leading to some speculation about whether or not an attack had actually taken place. The controversy was further fueled by reports that some comments in favor of the repeal were fraudulently posted. While the official results of that have not been revealed to the public by the investigating agency yet, Pai has now reported that no such attack ever took place.
According to FCC documents pertaining to the investigation, misinformation about the attack and the FCC's complacency about it was deliberately spread by the FCC’s former Chief Information Officer (CIO) David Bray. Moreover, Pai claims that Bray allowed news of the attack to spread for 'political purposes' and that the culture left behind by 'the previous administration' is at least partially to blame. Several of the FCC's IT staff did not agree that a DDoS had taken place, Pai adds, but hesitation to come forward in front of FCC management helped to perpetuate the misinformation. The chairman concludes that the issue with the latter problem has been addressed and that IT personnel have been encouraged to 'speak up' about disagreements.
However, the root cause of the problem that led to public commenting issues has not been fully disclosed. Instead, Pai indicates that a request has been filed and approved to gain funding in order to completely 'redesign' ECFS. Although no timeframe or details have been given for when that particular project will start or what the redesign will entail, approval was granted a week prior to the FCC press release regarding the investigation itself.