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FCC Says Bogus Traffic Overwhelmed Website After John Oliver Segment

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver

"Last Week Tonight" host John Oliver // Greg Allen/Invision/AP File Photo

The Federal Communications Commission was hit by multiple distributed denial-of-service attacks Sunday evening, causing delays to consumers trying to leave feedback on the agency’s cloud-based Electronic Comment Filing System.

According to a statement from FCC Chief Information Officer David Bray, the DDoS attacks started around midnight Sunday and did not shut the comment system down but instead used a large amount of bandwidth to tie up its servers.

“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,” Bray said in a statement. “These actors were not attempting to file comments themselves; rather they made it difficult for legitimate commenters to access and file with the FCC. While the comment system remained up and running the entire time, these DDoS events tied up the servers and prevented them from responding to people attempting to submit comments.”

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FCC’s statement comes after multiple media reports suggested the site was crashed by popular demand, following an episode of HBO’s “Last Week Tonight” in which host John Oliver encouraged people to comment on behalf of net neutrality. Oliver argued in favor of existing net neutrality rules, which FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed to eliminate, and created a website directing users to the proper FCC channel.

Oliver’s hour-long show airs Sundays at 11 p.m. Eastern time.

Oliver made a similar argument in favor of net neutrality rules three years ago that prompted technical issues within FCC’s systems and forced the agency to postpone its comment period. The agency has since modernized its IT infrastructure—including its comment filing system, which is now in the cloud.

“We have worked with our commercial partners to address this situation and will continue to monitor developments going forward,” Bray said.

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