“What is the FCC hiding?” Chairman Pai still won’t release net neutrality server logs

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The Federal Communications Commission has once again refused a New York Times request for records that the Times believes might shed light on Russian interference in the net neutrality repeal proceeding. The Times made a Freedom of Information Act (FoIA) request in June 2017 for FCC server logs and sued the FCC in September 2018 over the agency's ongoing refusal to release the records. The court case is still pending, but the Times had also appealed directly to the FCC to reverse its FoIA decision. The FCC denied that appeal. Although the Times narrowed its records request to satisfy the FCC's privacy and security concerns, the FCC says it still won't provide any of the requested data. Doing so, the agency asserts, would require more than a simple database search and require the FCC to "create records that do not already exist." The Times' FoIA request was for server logs related to the system for accepting public comments. The Times sought the information in order to investigate Russian involvement in fraudulent public comments. A similar request was made by Buzzfeed News, and the FCC rejected the requests from both news organizations.

"What is the Federal Communications Commission hiding?" FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel asked in her dissenting statement. She pointed to the widespread fraud in the net neutrality proceeding, saying that "as many as 9.5 million people had their identities stolen and used to file fake comments, which is a crime under both federal and state laws." "Something here is rotten—and it's time for the FCC to come clean,"Commissioner Rosenworcel said. "Regrettably, this agency will not do this on its own. So it falls to those who seek to investigate from outside its walls."

FCC Chairman Pai fired back at Commissioner Rosenworcel in a statement of his own, complaining that Rosenworcel didn't support Pai's efforts to improve FCC transparency during the Obama administration, when Democrats held the commission majority. "What has changed between then and now? Literally nothing, other than the political affiliation of the FCC's leadership (and a lot more transparency now than the agency ever had then)," Pai wrote. "What is required in this matter, as in any other, is sober analysis of the facts and the law—not partisan gamesmanship. Fortunately, the Commission majority embraces that ethos in this item."

“What is the FCC hiding?” Chairman Pai still won’t release net neutrality server logs Opinion and Order (FCC) Statement (Chairman Pai) Statement (Commissioner Rosenworcel)