FCC Won't Release Data To Support Its Claim A DDOS Attack, Not John Oliver, Brought Down The Agency's Website

from the not-so-transparent-after-all dept

You might recall that when HBO comedian John Oliver originally addressed net neutrality on his show in 2014, the FCC website crashed under the load of concerned consumers eager to support the creation of real net neutrality rules. When Oliver revisited the topic last May to discuss FCC boss Ajit Pai’s myopic plan to kill those same rules, the FCC website crashed under the load a second time. Both instances did a fantastic job highlighting how satire often tops traditional journalism in driving interest toward what can often be rather wonky tech policy issues.

But then something weird happened. In the midst of all the attention Oliver was receiving for his segment, the FCC issued a statement (pdf) by FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray, claiming that comprehensive FCC “analysis” indicated that it was a malicious DDoS attack, not angry net neutrality supporters, that brought the agency’s website to its knees:

“Beginning on Sunday night at midnight, our analysis reveals that the FCC was subject to multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks (DDos). These were deliberate attempts by external actors to bombard the FCC?s comment system with a high amount of traffic to our commercial cloud host. These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC.”

But this claim that a DDoS disabled the FCC website at coincidentally the exact same time Oliver’s segment was airing raised a few eyebrows among security experts, who noted they saw none of the usual online indicators pointing to a DDoS attack, nor any evidence of an attack via publicly-available logs. Security analysts noted the FCC provided no evidence to support their claim of an attack, and the agency has consistently and repeatedly refused to offer any additional hard detail, despite being prodded by several Senators on the subject.

Hoping to glean a little more information, Gizmodo recently filed a FOIA request asking for server logs or documents offering more insight into this supposed attack. What they found is that the FCC never conducted said “analysis” of the attack in the first place:

“The FCC now tells Gizmodo, however, that it holds no records of such an analysis ever being performed on its public comment system; the agency claims that while its IT staff observed a cyberattack taking place, those observations ?did not result in written documentation.”

Gizmodo’s FOIA request asked for “all communications between employees in the offices of Chairman Ajit Pai and Commissioner Michael O?Rielly” concerning the alleged cyberattack, as well as copies of “any records related to the FCC ‘analysis’ (cited in Dr. Bray?s statement) that concluded a DDoS attack had taken place.” What they got instead was 17 pages of heavy redactions and nonsense (including several user complaints about what Pai’s been up to) and a rotating crop of excuses for why the FCC couldn’t be more transparent about the alleged attack:

“The agency cited a variety of reasons for why it was refusing to release 209 documents related to the purported DDoS attack. Some of the records, it says, contain ?trade secrets and commercial or financial information? which it deems ?privileged or confidential,? citing the Trade Secrets Act. Other documents were withheld in an effort to ?prevent injury to the quality of agency decisions,? citing a FOIA exemption that typically protects attorney-client communications but also extends to documents that reflect ?advisory opinions, recommendations and deliberations? as part of the government?s decision-making processes.”

It didn’t take long for news outlets to highlight the FCC’s refusal to be clear about what happened, prompting the agency to e-mail this press release to reporters, deriding said reports as “completely irresponsible”:

“Media reports claiming that the FCC lacks written documentation of its analysis of the May 7-8 non-traditional DDoS attack that took place against our electronic comment filing system are categorically false. In its FOIA request, Gizmodo requested records related to the FCC analysis cited in Dr. David Bray?s May 8 public statement about this attack. Given that the Commission?s IT professionals were in the midst of addressing the attack on May 8, that analysis was not reduced to writing. However, subsequent analysis, once the incident had concluded, was put in writing. Indeed, analysis was made public in response to a request from Capitol Hill.

?Moreover, the FCC has never stated that it lacks any documentation of this DDoS attack itself. And news reports claiming that the Commission has said this are without any basis and completely irresponsible. In fact, we have voluminous documentation of this attack in the form of logs collected by our commercial cloud partners.”

But while the FCC’s statement proclaims the agency has oodles of documentation detailing the supposed DDoS (it just doesn’t want to reveal it), that’s the precise opposite of what the agency is telling reporters that have filed FOIA requests to get a hold of it:

So it seems like there’s two options here. One is that there really was some kind of non-traditional DDoS attack, but the agency failed to conduct a detailed written analysis of what caused it, and despite boss Ajit Pai’s breathless dedication to transparency, has zero interest in being up front about it.

The other possibility is the entire attack narrative was poorly-constructed bullshit, feebly designed to try and deflate the “John Oliver effect” in the media and downplay the volume of consumers pissed off about what Ajit Pai is up to. And now that Senators and reporters are pushing harder for actual evidence, the FCC is having to engage in some comical tap dancing to obfuscate the fact it made up a DDOS attack as a lame (and ineffective) PR ploy.

The former’s certainly possible, but the latter’s also in character. Either way, expect this and the agency’s willful disregard of comment proceeding fraud to pop up in the inevitable lawsuits awaiting Ajit Pai when he rams through the final net neutrality killing vote later this year.

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Comments on “FCC Won't Release Data To Support Its Claim A DDOS Attack, Not John Oliver, Brought Down The Agency's Website”

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Ninja (profile) says:

There was no DDoS attack so they don’t have anything to produce short of going the fraud way and artificially producing such documents (I wonder if it can be done?) and even then the fact that they use Akamai infra-structure would make it even harder to believe. If Akamai managed to hold that giant DDoS against Brian Krebs a while back and they are one of the largest providers out there at the very least a DDoS large enough to shake Akamai would be in the news with other thousands of sites crashing as well.

It’s pretty obvious that Pai is a liar. The question is: when is the punishment coming? I think the answer is never and we’ll get the repeal of NN as our giant turd in a wrap gift with a cute card with a pic of Pai showing us his metaphorical middle finger.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Ah, that was the best and most well sourced comment I’ve seen on this issue, it’s worth sharing. I’ll post the link then the text but visit the original for the sources.


[–]MNGrrl 18.6k pontos 1 dia ago*x50

We caught them red handed — they claimed ‘cyber attack’ but we have the uptime reports. We have the connectivity reports (their CDN is Akamai – you can view real time attack data for their network — if the FCC site was down, a big chunk of the web would have been too). It would have made big news in the IT/networking world if Akamai hiccup’d… since they were able to handle the world’s largest DDoS last fall. That got noticed… by, erm, everyone. Network Operations Centers all over the world saw it. Did anyone see the FCC DDoS? crickets

There’s evidence that the bot is being run on an API — in other words someone inside the FCC specifically gave access. They have to issue special keys (just like with Reddit!) — and they’re rate limited. They would know who’s doing it instantly, because that API isn’t available for just anyone: You have to ask for it — click on the link, it’ll show you the form; It asks for name and e-mail. Someone from the FCC said as much — it was API accesses, not public-facing. If there was a connectivity issue it wasn’t external, it was internal, preventable, and that’s why they won’t give out the server logs. Because they knew who was doing it, could have stopped it, didn’t, and are letting it continue to happen as we speak. They know exactly which comments are being submitted by bots, and who owns them. Purely for my own amusement, I went looking for the Terms of Service for accessing the API. Click. Click. Aaaand here we are: “FCC computer systems employ software to monitor network traffic to identify unauthorized attempts…” :snip: “If such monitoring reveals evidence of possible abuse or criminal activity” :snip: cough Fraud cough “Unauthorized attempts to upload or change information on this server are strictly prohibited”. Not going to do anything, FCC? Says what they did is “strictly prohibited”… soooooooo…. crickets

The previous link provides evidence it’s a grand total of… five. Five different copy pasta text; And all sourced from the same stolen identity databases. And the submission times are painfully obvious that it was automated: The number of submissions per second was nearly constant too, like clockwork. And submitted alphabetically. What’s more… They prepared for this years ago. You can say, unironically, “Thanks Obama” for that one. They specifically upgraded the public comments after the last network neutrality comment crush. Rather a lot (footnote: ECFS is the comment system — and it was specifically targeted for a revamp and big bump to system capacity). That capacity wasn’t exceeded — not by the general public anyway. The inflow rate of submissions from John Oliver’s gofccyourself.com came in well under — 150k versus 1.1 million? It’s hard to imagine how they’d add all that extra capacity only to have it fall over dead under a fraction of the load. Someone was even nice enough to make a map of who’s submitting the comments. Look at the first time this happened. Then look at that one. Notice anything? This time around, the map looks like a mirror of the population distribution of the entire country. By the numbers, the whole nation knows about Network Neutrality, across every demographic… equally. Including the deceased.

Oh, they never filed a report with the Department of Homeland Security, which is what every government agency is supposed to do if they experience a cyber attack. Double bonus round, Here’s the FCC’s own page on cybersecurity preparedness and response. And what do they say? “The FCC, because of its relationship with the nation’s communications network service providers, is particularly well positioned to work with industry to secure the networks upon which the Internet depends.” Sounds like someone who’d have a plan, you’d think.They claimed to the media something their own policies dictate what the response should be — and they didn’t do those things. It’s right there for anyone who cares to go hunting for the data and published documents. They didn’t file the report because it wasn’t a DDoS: It was access approved by them.

The FCC may be run now by a corrupt chairman but the institution itself was built on transparency and this guy sits in his office with an oversized coffee mug and posts Youtubes about how tech savvy he is. Behold, he can Twitter. Well, he isn’t, actually. His pants are down and his ass is hanging out if you know where to look. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was the FCC. No matter how much him and the rest of the Trump administration tries to silence, coerce, replace, and otherwise generally screw with freedom of information and transparency… those institutions are staffed by tens of thousands of people operating under policies and rules enacted over decades. The FCC doesn’t operate in a vaccum either: It’s part of the internet. An internet catalogued and backed up by the NSA no less. Anyone remember Snowden and metadata? We log the shit out of all internet traffic. There are no logs. That’s damning enough evidence all by itself.

You can’t CTRL-Z that. We have all the proof we need; We don’t need server logs. We don’t need confirmation from them. They can throw up a wall of silence and deny all they want — we have them dead to rights and it amazes me that nobody in the media has come out and flatly said these guys are full of shit beyond any reasonable doubt. This isn’t accusation, it’s not supposition, it’s hard fact. The. End.

Here’s a parting thought: How about we all hit up the FTC and report identity theft? About, erm, what, a million or so cases so far? Let’s subpoena the shit out of the FCC and unmask our identity thieves. While we’re at it, let’s grab their e-mail server too. Something something but her e-mails. I, for one, find it materially relevant how my identity was stolen, and some of that evidence is in the FCC’s possession. That chairman’s a lawyer right? Surely he wouldn’t begrudge us lawyering up.


EDITs: Added links and some extra details.

EDIT: Press refresh after the edits and… Oh. For those wanting to go to the press: You have my permission to copy pasta this in whole or in part to anyone you want — just link back to this comment or credit me. Thanks.

EDIT: Several users pinged WaPo here; They’re investigating. #WeDidItReddit

EDIT: Gizmodo is too.

EDIT: Hello El Reg! They were nice enough to post the FCC’s statement regarding the DDoS. I’ll save you the trouble of reading it: “We were DDoS’d and the evidence is ███████, using ████ ███████, and we’re ███████. Thanks. “

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

I could be, but can you offer any evidence?

I believe I am on the corollary side…

“the corollary to the Dunning–Kruger effect indicates that persons of high ability tend to underestimate their relative competence, and erroneously presume that tasks that are easy for them to perform also are easy for other people to perform.”

I see this as an easy to solve problem from the political perspective, so therefore I am exasperated at people for not “easily” getting it.

Are you aware of the follow Maxims?

Liberty requires eternal vigilance.
Those willing to give up liberty for safety or security get neither security or liberty.

On the 1st Maxim
If people seek to be free and have liberty, then they must demand to have a direct voice in the economy and to vigilantly protect that voice and participate with it. This is not possible with the regulation that is being demanded right now with Wheeler Vision NN. Eternal vigilance means that the people in the economy will have to do the work necessary to determine if this ISP or that ISP serves their interests more and then to do business with those that serve their interests. Regulation short circuits that and government just tells each business how they have to behave in the market or else, meaning someone get cut out of having a say because the ONLY game in town the game that government approves of.

This directly creates regulatory capture and facilitates an Oligarchy. It give the regulator power, to which the business either bends too or buys the favor of. In either case, the people have lost their voice because you cannot yell louder than a stack of cash, that is just the facts.

Now, lets talk about the 2nd maxim.
When you ask for a politician to step in, on your behalf, to protect you from something you must give up liberty for them to have that power. When you give up the liberty, it is gone, and politicians are NOT going to protect you either, they have no reason to protect you. All they need to do is staunch your wounds and more than enough people will be happy as proven time and again by history. The TSA and their failure rates are a shining example of how bad the government is at regulating. And the reason why it is a shining example is because it is hard to hide something in the public eye like the TSA. However, since the Money that your ISP spends, your Politicians, and the government can be easily hidden from you… you can’t see the huge waste being funded by your taxes.

The government is good at destroying things…. Lets only give them the tools that make sense. Those are anti-monopoly/trust tools and to enforce “truth in advertising”. This will allow government to break apart corrupt businesses that “failed to bribe them enough of course” and the people can pick and choose who to do business with.

By the way, they are already not enforcing anti-trust/monopoly laws OR truth in advertising either. So if they can’t do those right? Why give them more power? They will only collude with the people with the money and that will only result in two parties looking to plunder your ass.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Aside the enormously egocentric tone of your post, you do present some points that are worth paying attention to and that need addressing such as how to prevent the Govt from abusing the tools given to them or to make such tools that are sometimes needed to be resilient against abuses. It’s a legitimate problem we need to discuss.

It seems to me that you can see value and the need of proper regulations but life somehow got you cynical to a point that you think no regulations are going to escape corruption. I personally can understand that because It’s the feeling I have concerning copyright. I used to support some protection to creators but it got so distorted, corrupted by the MAFIAA and its ilk that I started supporting total abolition. While I still maintain my position, I believe it should be abolished while we can’t put in place something more resilient to corruption. It is kind of hard to do it with some other more urgent subjects like drugs or even broadband given how important it is to our daily lives nowadays.

So I would suggest you at the very least change your way of presenting your ideas. It would be interesting to discuss what kind of regulations would be effective to tackle the issue of ISPs abusing their last mile for instance given there are restrictions that can’t be easily overcome (ie: you can’t increase competition overnight which could avoid more egregious behavior). It’s a suggestion. Nobody is going to buy the ‘no regulations because govt is bad’ mantra but I’m sure discussions that take into account reality and possible ways out will be welcome even if they are a bit heated.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:7 Re:

I have said it many times.

Last mile owned by property owner.
poles and buried wire is public property to be gasp regulated
Government enforces Truth in Advertising. If they are lying, no fines, just jail.

“Yelling “YOU’RE DOING IT WRONG” without providing an alternative isn’t very constructive.”

next week the same thing. I tell you how you are doing it wrong, point out where regulation WILL make sense, and someone will be along to say that I did not offer a solution and I want anarchy.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:5 Re:

Ah, I understand your issue now. It’s that you can’t let go of ideals for the sake of practicality. Sure, it would be nice if we as the people could just keep businesses honest by using their buying power. And I agree, some of these problems would go away if they were just enforcing existing anti-trust, monopoly, and advertising regulations.

But I feel like you should be able to see from empirical, historical evidence that you can’t get the general populace to be ever vigilant about everything all the time. At best you can get them riled briefly about a single issue and a single proposed solution.

And I think you should also recognize that the FCC classifying a service under Title II is well within existing law and not some new power we’re giving to them. We’re just pushing for them to properly exercise an existing power. And it seems to have worked quite well so far in other industries that have been classified under Title II for some time now.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

“It’s that you can’t let go of ideals for the sake of practicality.”

funny, that is my accusation for you. It is not practical to ask a politician to save you from big bad business. If we lived in a utopia where businesses did not try to bribe and corrupt politicians… well you might have a case.

“But I feel like you should be able to see from empirical, historical evidence that you can’t get the general populace to be ever vigilant about everything all the time. At best you can get them riled briefly about a single issue and a single proposed solution.”

You are correct, history does in fact show that. Which is why I hold another maxim. Every Nation gets the government it deserves. It was also recently backed up by Obama himself when he stated that people get the Politicians they deserve.

The founding fathers of America already predicted that we would be here and even gave us the tools to prevent it, but… as the Declaration of Independence states….

“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.”

Right now we like to create laws/regulation without any thought and we endure many evil, but suffer able, things. Innocent people are in jail, people assume guilt or innocent based on accusation alone. White man? must be racist. Man on Woman issue? he must be a rapist or misogynist. Black man? He must be casing the neighborhood or dealing drugs for his gang. Mexican? Must be an illegal immigrant.

“And I think you should also recognize that the FCC classifying a service under Title II is well within existing law and not some new power we’re giving to them.”

I can marginally live with Title II, even thought that is still not the optimum solution. Title II is literally to grant the business a Monopoly and regulate them as one, the very thing pro-regulatory zealots harp that will happen without the regulation to begin with. If the call for regulation will be creating the very thing you said you were afraid free market capitalism could create then how can you NOT look like a huge tool bag when calling for regulation?

“And it seems to have worked quite well so far in other industries that have been classified under Title II for some time now.”

A statement of gross ignorance.
Right now, in Texas, I cannot legally tell my power company to fuck off and disconnect and use Solar Power because of your “appreciation” of regulation. I still have to pay a title II regulated utility even when I do not need them because of people like you!

Who know so much, but understand quite little! That is why I appear to be a sanctimonious ass, because all of you are sanctimonious asses. If anyone talks bad about the church of regulation, it’s on baby!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

“Nor sure you mean by this but I’m guessing you are the no regs guy.”

I am not the “no regs” guys… but it does not stop you all from constantly advancing that lie anyways. As long as you keep that up, you deserve people like Pai running the FCC.

I fully support anti-monopoly and anti-trust regulation.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“Then you clearly have a very bad cognitive dissonance problem.”

Negative, you lack either the intellectual capacity or honesty to understand.

I am certainly anti-regulation as a general rule, but I am definitely for anti-trust and monopoly regulations. This does not make me an anarchist as so many will erect as a straw-man.

The problem is YOU making the issue of regulation an all or nothing term, along with several others.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:6 Re:

He varies, from what I’ve seen. If he can get away with attacking the very concept of regulation, he will. But, when called out for how utterly stupid it would be to hand communications over to defacto monopoly corporations with no public oversight, he’ll either ramble about how some regulation is OK or start ranting about how it’s all the FCC’s fault anyway.

I’ve never seen him actually address the fact that the countries that have superior internet to the US tend to be heavily regulated, or that it’s the corporations that are directly at fault for the stagnation in the US, but we can’t expect too much.

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

This is clearly a problem with the current FCC head because the current regulations in place (that he is trying to take down) are not a problem. In fact they are a quite light-touched approach that could have been better but it’s actually not too bad. You know, balanced between public and private interests.

And interestingly, when it was put in place by the last FCC head some stuff magically fixed themselves like the Verizon lack of ports to serve their customers in that Netflix case and other petty spats. So yeah, regulations bad!

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

Hey, I will admit that having Wheeler Vision NN is better than not in the current atmosphere.

But we are sitting in the political problem of… “be wary of the power you give your friends, because they might be replaced with your enemies in the next election”

So yea, this is clearly a problem with the current FCC, which was brought on by the power we gave all of the Previous FCC’s.

“So yeah, regulations bad!”

Did Wheeler Vision not have the Zero Rating loop-hole? Got a solution for that? How about their ability to just “arbitrarily” enforce Wheeler Vision? All I have to do to fuck the market over is to decide to enforce Wheeler Vision on ATT while letting Comcast get by with anything because they donate to my campaign.

If you give me power, I am making myself wealthy and secure with it, fuck you if you get in my way so you better be helping me.

~(almost) Every Politician Ever!

Ninja (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:3 Re:

So as I said above change your tone. I do agree with you and even TD has already criticized Obama for enacting tools that “would never be abused because we are the good guys” that are promptly being abused by Trump.

As for the selective enforcement there are ways to mount pressure than going “no regulations” at all. And remember it’s only 4 years. The beauty of democracy is that presidents get swapped. We need to tweak it to bring it to the legislative and to the judiciary but in a way less prone to abuse by the economic power. I’ve seen ideas where people could get elected twice, three times then never again in any public position for instance. I see value there but the need to tweak it. I don’t know how, I’m still processing a lot of things.

You clearly see there’s a human factor at play which is why neither Capitalism nor Socialism will ever work in their ‘pure’ forms. Then let us discuss on how to deal with it instead of negating and criticizing all efforts in a negative light. Get them and improve.

Anyway, the idea is, provide more value instead of saying “govt bad” and posing as the overlord of the subject.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:4 Re:

“So as I said above change your tone.”

You are free to infer my tone as you see fit. I do not like your tone either, yet I do not ask for you to change it.

“You clearly see there’s a human factor at play which is why neither Capitalism nor Socialism will ever work in their ‘pure’ forms.”

Only in a utopia would they work in their pure forms, everything would work in its pure form in a utopia. So yes, I agree with you there.

“Then let us discuss on how to deal with it instead of negating and criticizing all efforts in a negative light. Get them and improve.”

This again? Do I need to run my posts by your editor before you read them? Good luck sir! I shant care for thee and your pre-conceptions about silly notions of decorum whilst in vigorous discourse!

Enter the fray at your own peril and burden me not with your ideas of etiquettes! For some, a grin is a sign of romantic interest, others a sign of hostility, and yet others a sign of malice and treachery, while others yet might harken upon your message with a visage of kindness.

I might yet raise my voice, not out of malice, but concern. Perhaps I draw my dagger to stab at the foe behind your back?

Perhaps you can get over yourself?

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Re:2 Re:

I will be shocked if he EVEN gets a wrist slap, Pai is going to be well cared for by the industry for his work.

Pai is secure, even if he loses his political day job.

At worst Pai is is going to get a golden parachute for his problems, like political theater he will feign falling on his sword as the real Pai escapes to a resort for a comfortable life.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

That second paragraph… damn.

I’d been giving them the benefit of the doubt, assuming that they were just turning a blind eye to the actions of someone else that happened to be submitting fraudulent comments that helped the narrative they were going for, but if I’m reading that right and the evidence is solid it looks like it’s worse than that, they know who’s doing it, could stop it at any time, and are deliberately not doing so.

Anonymous Coward says:

The agency cited a variety of reasons for why it was refusing to release 209 documents related to the purported DDoS attack. Some of the records, it says, contain “trade secrets and commercial or financial information” which it deems “privileged or confidential,”

Presumably because that would reveal that a Lot of ISP owned addresses were involved in flooding them with anti net neutrality comments.

stderric (profile) says:

The interesting thing to me...

Whether or not it was in reality the Oliver Effect or an unrelated DDoS attack is almost immaterial. The interesting and important part is that the FCC would prefer us to think they were more vulnerable to a ‘cyber attack’ than to a TV comedian. They’re actually scared of John Oliver taking fifteen minutes to talk to a camera.

The idea of satire Trumping traditional advertising, er, I mean journalism, is getting more obvious every day.

ShadowNinja (profile) says:

If the mainstream media only paid attention to this

If the mainstream media actually paid attention to Net Neutrality and cared about the issue, the FCC would have been forced to back down from their garbage hacking claim ages ago.

It’s outrageous the lack of attention this and Net Neutrality has been getting in the mainstream media.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Net Neutrality on its own is too much of a crap-trap for a discussion. Too unspecified and prone for arguing over the meaning/details, rather than a real pro/contra for analysis. The technical diversity/mess among ISPs is making it too complex to define effects on ISPs as such, thus making it too difficult to cover the different legitimate angles for defining the issue.

This issue is part of a wider problem where the complexity of the technical issues and the traders collusion are too difficult for an educated debate, making the economic side win out every day and twice on sunday. In this case the large internet companies are tbtf and more pressured by anti-trust. Thus the lobbying leverage among the economic interests is one-sided.

Interestingly, the same leverage problem is likely to occur when “free” trade is negotiated without public influence points beside politicians (should be self-explanatory). Other issues where this leverage situation is important is on validity of patents (Patents are a two-way sword for companies, but as long as the patent isn’t specifically appliable in their case, who the hell cares about validity?), Copyright (Strong economic monopoly independent of technology for generations? More is always better economically for the owner, the user is not relevant!) and some other issues.

Economy is god and unless your politician – specifically and in detail – defines their position on your specific issues before an election and is trustworthy enough to follow through, economic interests (personally, tribally or societally, illegal or legal, moral or immoral) will fill in the blanks. Since such a politician can never exist, there is a need for better protecting public interest, through other means (transparency and/or positional leveraging, like this blog).

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

“Too unspecified”

Bull. The term is perfectly specified. The problem is that people who don’t care about facts or have an anti-NN agenda revel in deliberately misdefining it.

“making the economic side win out every day and twice on sunday”

The economic side is the side supported by keeping net neutrality. There’s a few monied corporations who stand to benefit greatly in the short term by ditching it, at the expense of the wider economy, so the problem is the corrupt political system that favours lobbyists over facts.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

There are many things against the law, in fact there are situations in which you have violated law no matter what you do or do not do. So, people simply ignore the stupid shit and mostly so does the government except when they dig thru the lawyer shit pile to find something that might stick. Yes, this is seriously wrong, not even getting into the fake laws that some LEOs like to toss around.

Ryunosuke (profile) says:

"The FCC now tells Gizmodo, however, that it holds no records of such an analysis ever being performed on its public comment system; the agency claims that while its IT staff observed a cyberattack taking place, those observations “did not result in written documentation."

That is VERY VERY irresponsible AT BEST. The agency in charge of COMMUNICATIONS, did no documentation on an ongoing cyber-attack, so they could report it later to authorities? Is that not unlike destroying evidence? or (rhetorical quesion) are they lying? If it WAS a cyber attack, would the FBI be involved, can we FIOA the FBI on records the FCC have submitted to the FBI?

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

"You're Doing It Wrong"

I have to disagree.

You’re doing it wrong is, granted, not as complete an answer as providing a better alternative. But in some cases, we just don’t have better alternatives. In some cases, we’re just guessing at better alternatives. In some cases, the better alternatives are super complex, and we need string of think tanks to explore how to approach the problem. (Think tanks now come in strings.)

In the case of intellectual property (for instance), I can say with confidence no IP licenses is better than what we have today, but that’s not great either. We need reasonable and regulated licenses, and we need someone who speaks for the public and lobbies for a robust public domain when we’re looking to craft IP law.

(To cite another example) Occupy Wall Street (and the subsequent Occupy movements) made a very relevant point: Wealth disparity is too extreme, and too many poor people leads to some very severe problems. We’ve been conditioned via a lot of rich-people propaganda to ignore wealth disparity, to deride redistribution, and to risk general want reaching critical mass. The few efforts we have to redistribute wealth to the poorer half (those that haven’t been dismantled) are not only insufficient, but practically symbolic.

But wealth disparity is a complicated problem, and we are doing it wrong, but when someone other than schooled economists look at the problem, the solution always devolves to massacre the people we don’t like and take their stuff. Because that’s easy, and there’s always someone we don’t like that deserves genocide.

So there’s two messages here:

~ There’s a problem

~ This may be a solution

They’re separate messages and both are valid. That a commenter does not have the latter message doesn’t mean the former is invalid.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: "You're Doing It Wrong"

I like the cut of your jib sir!

“We need reasonable and regulated licenses, and we need someone who speaks for the public and lobbies for a robust public domain when we’re looking to craft IP law.”

This regulation is definitely needed. The problem is getting our fellow citizens to get off their party buses and working towards getting rid of corrupt politicians taking phat stacks of cash from the Copyright Lobby.

Regarding OWS. The problem there was that Mass Media is very much in the Pocket of the super rich, so they intentionally chose the worst OWS people and put them in front of a camera to speak to the cause making them look like idiots.

redistribution of wealth is immoral because it can only be done by deciding who gets to have their money taken from them at the point of a gun. No person or government has the right to decide this. Once you have earned wealth it should not be removed just because a group of people voted to steal it from you.

It is better to create a wealth cap that states no person can ever own more than x amount of the National GDP. If a person can amass enough wealth to directly manipulate an economy then it is broken, and we have several people that are able to do this!

“But wealth disparity is a complicated problem”

I don’t think it is complicated at all. We are just tricking ourselves into thinking that. Most people are greedy and want enough money/power to tell other what to do or think. It’s human nature.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: "You're Doing It Wrong"

“I don’t think it is complicated at all”

The complicated part is convincing business owners, c-suite stuffed shirts and the general public that a full time employee (whatever number of hours that is) needs to be paid a living wage for the area in which they reside.

When this does not occur, like many places at present, then there are calls for government assistance .. for many reasons many of them humanitarian. Poverty creates many problems and not all of them remain in place, that is disease can spread quite rapidly well beyond the confines of the slums. And yet I hear calls for defunding CDC and stopping vaccinations – are these people insane?

Anyways – I am sick and tired of subsidizing the likes of Walmart via taxation, if they can not afford to pay their employees enough to stay alive then maybe they ought to go out of business.

Uriel-238 (profile) says:

Re: Re: Redistribution of wealth by force

People who don’t agree with the taxes they have to pay would argue that the money is taken at the point of a gun. The IRS is happy to deploy SWAT teams where subpoenas fail.

I expect, ultimately, more intervention will be needed with the coming robot revolution, in which delivery, clerical and even professional jobs will be replaced with robots and computers, many of which are available today, and those that aren’t are in late development stages.

Regardless, human nature is what makes these problems complicated. We can’t solve tragedized commons, dehumanization of everyone outside our close circles or predilections for hoarding wealth by Just say no campaigns any more than we can solve teenage pregnancy or drug addiction epidemics.

We work with human nature, or we work around human nature, but trying to convince the public to ignore human nature only serves to march progress backwards.

That One Guy (profile) says:

Lies, damn lies, and FCC press releases

So there was an attack against their systems but they kept no logs, apparently didn’t report it to anyone else(you’d think a major government agency being attacked would be of interest to other agencies tasked with investigating that sort of thing), and now there are logs but they refuse to release them…

Or they’re lying through their teeth and there was no attack, and therefore there are no logs to release.

Occam’s Razor makes it pretty clear which of those two are more likely, and given the current head of the agency seems to have no problem lying to the public and/or repeating debunked falsehoods I know which one I’m going with as the more likely explanation.

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