Last night, John Oliver put a call out for his Last Week Tonight viewers to band together and let the FCC know how they feel about net neutrality and the need for ISP regulation, going so far as to buy gofccyourself.com and set it up to redirect back to a page on the FCC’s own site where users can leave comments and express their concerns. This was a repeat of a similar move Oliver tried three years ago, shortly before the FCC did agree to classify internet services as a utility. With Trump and his administration looking to dismantle every good thing in the government and sell it for parts, though, our precious internet freedom is once again in danger. That was Oliver’s angle, at least, and apparently he was so convincing that the FCC’s comments page actually crashed overnight.
The general assumption was that Oliver had mobilized his viewers so successfully that the FCC site couldn’t handle the influx of traffic, but now the FCC itself is saying that its website going down had nothing to do with Oliver’s call-to-action. As reported by Deadline, the FCC claims the outage was due to a distributed denial of service attack (or DDoS if you’re hip) that coincidentally lined up with the broadcast of Last Week Tonight. The FCC says that the attack came from “external actors” who were apparently attempting to shut down the commenting system and prevent “legitimate commenters” from voicing their concerns.
Unsurprisingly, pro-net neutrality organization Fight For The Future doesn’t buy that story. In a statement, it suggests that the timing of Oliver’s show and the supposed DDoS attack line up too perfectly, and it demands that the FCC send its comment logs to an independent analyst to ensure that all of the comments that people attempted to leave last night are counted. You can see the full statement at this link.