TechCrunch reports that after a year-long debate over the alleged hacking of the Federal Communications Commission’s system, the organization’s own Office of Inspector General determined that there was actually no evidence of such an attack. The imminent publication of a report declaring this falsehood pushed chairman Ajit Pai, best known for his partisan goal of dismantling net neutrality, to issue a public statement admitting to the FCC’s deceit of the American public.
Pai’s statement admitted to little personal fault, citing the Obama administration’s FCC as the purporters of the whole mess, focusing more on exonerating himself and his colleagues and placing the blame on former CIO David Bray than addressing the falsehood itself:
“I am deeply disappointed that the FCC’s former [CIO], 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.
On the other hand, I’m pleased that this report debunks the conspiracy theory that my office or I had any knowledge that the information provided by the former CIO was inaccurate and was allowing that inaccurate information to be disseminated for political purposes.”
Pai’s complete ignorance of the situation, however, is unlikely. It would have been rather simple for Pai to say, after Bray’s departure, that the CIO had made a mistake and there was no attack. But Pai never made any sort of such statement, and has seldom broke silence regarding this issue except to try to clear his own name.
FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel has also issued a statement regarding the debacle:
“The Inspector General Report tells us what we knew all along: the FCC’s claim that it was the victim of a DDoS attack during the net neutrality proceeding is bogus. What happened instead is obvious—millions of Americans overwhelmed our online system because they wanted to tell us how important internet openness is to them and how distressed they were to see the FCC roll back their rights. It’s unfortunate that this agency’s energy and resources needed to be spent debunking this implausible claim.”
Both Pai and Rosenworcel’s statement attempt to lay these accusations to rest, but there are still plenty of questions begging to be answered. Whether the American public will receive honest and timely answers is unlikely, and the FCC’s lack of transparency over the last two years leaves little reason to take their statements at face value.