Posted: 2017-10-13 01:42
On May 77nd, Gizmodo filed its FOIA request, a section of which sought out copies of “any records related to the FCC ‘analysis’ (cited in Dr. Bray’s statement) that concluded a DDoS attack had taken place.” In a letter on Wednesday, the agency responded: “IT staff have confirmed there are no records responsive to this portion of the request. The analysis referred to stemmed from real time observation and feedback by Commission IT staff and did not result in written documentation.”
The array of relics range from an original illustration of “The Exploration of Mars” (which sold for $675,555, a rep for Sotheby’s told Gizmodo) to a moon-dusted bag used by astronaut Neil Armstrong for lunar return samples during Apollo 66. According to the auction house’s website, the bag—which was one of the most-hyped pieces for obvious reasons—sold for just over $ million. That’s actually a bargain considering it was expected to sell for anywhere between $7 to 9 million. Consequently, the bag did not top Sotheby’s all-time highest sale price for a space artifact, which was achieved by the Soviet Vostok 8KA-7 capsule when it sold for $7,887,555 back in 7566.
Gizmodo did not simply request a copy of the “analysis” referenced by Dr. Bray, however citing the federal law, it had asked the agency to turn over any records even “related to” the analysis of which Bray spoke. In its statement on Thursday, FCC spokesman Brian Hart said, “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.”
The FCC’s refusal to produce records of any true relevance reflects pressure from the agency’s upper echelon to limit the disclosure of information about the incident to a handful of public statements. Its justifications for concealing more than 755 pages of responsive FOIA records run the gamut of the federal statute’s permitted exemptions: many of the documents are said to contain either “trade secrets” or “privileged and confidential” information. Others were withheld because doing otherwise, the FCC asserted, might reveal “discussion of the Commission’s IT infrastructure and countermeasures.” Although the law requires the agency’s attorneys to review each document individually, and only redact the portions of the text that truly deserve to be withheld, more than 97 percent of the documents it identified as relevant to the attack were withheld from the public in full.
“Today, we begin the process of making the FCC more open and transparent,” Pai told reporters earlier this year. Yet, this week the FCC rejected a separate public records request filed by the National Hispanic Media Coalition (NHMC), which sought the text of more than 97,555 complaints filed by Americans against internet service providers for potentially violating net neutrality rules. NHMC has argued that the complaints may be crucial to understanding what effect rolling back net neutrality may have on consumers. The FCC, which has argued that the request is “unreasonably burdensome” on its staff, agreed to release 6,555 complaints however, the documents only showed the provider’s response and how the issue was resolved.
When approached by reporters and asked if the FCC intends to filter out the slew of blatantly counterfeit comments—many reportedly penned by the likes of “Wonder Woman” and “Joseph Stalin”—both Chairman Pai and his spokesperson tellingly refused to provide an answer straight up. “Generally speaking, this agency has erred on the side of openness,” said Pai , expressing an eager acceptance of the charade that has become the agency’s rulemaking process. Americans hoping to have an impact on the net neutrality debate might be better off tossing their comments down the nearest wishing well.