Washington, DC — On Friday, President Joe Biden signed an executive order calling on federal agencies, including the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission, to enact measures protecting internet users against the anti-competitive practices of large telecommunications and internet companies. In the order, Biden calls on the FCC to “restore Net Neutrality rules undone by the [Trump] administration.” In 2017, the agency under then-Chairman Ajit Pai repealed the Open Internet Order and abandoned the FCC’s jurisdiction over broadband under Title II of the Communications Act. Today’s executive order also calls on the FCC to require more transparency from broadband providers about their prices and terms of service, and to examine the impact of early termination fees and other punitive practices imposed on broadband customers.
Yesterday, Public Knowledge joined Access Humboldt, Benton Institute for Broadband and Society, Consumer Reports, and New America’s Open Technology Institute in filing comments in response to the Federal Communications Commission’s Public Notice on the use of E-Rate funds to enable remote learning. Public Knowledge supports “off-campus” use of E-Rate funds to help students studying at home access the broadband they need to stay connected to classes, student services, and their families during the pandemic. The following can be attributed to Greg Guice, Director of Government Affairs at Public Knowledge: “As the nation enters its 12th month of the COVID-19 pandemic, most schools remain closed or opened on a limited basis, making distance learning the primary means of educational instruction for many students.
As we documented in our previous three posts, the $9.2-billion Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF) — FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s supposed crowning achievement toward closing the broadband digital divide — is looking more and more like one of the most wasteful projects in FCC history. Our first post gave some examples of questionable funding in urban areas that we stumbled upon after spending just a few minutes with the map of winning bidders. This included ridiculous examples of “rural” subsidies awarded to major ISPs to offer broadband in gated urban communities where they already offer service, and awards to bring broadband to a posh resort that is already well-connected.
The rollout of fiber broadband will never make it to many communities in the US. That’s because large, national ISPs are currently laying fiber primarily focused on high-income users to the detriment of the rest of their users. The absence of regulators has created a situation where wealthy end users are getting fiber, but predominantly low-income users are not being transitioned off legacy infrastructure. The result being “digital redlining” of broadband, where wealthy broadband users are getting the benefits of cheaper and faster Internet access through fiber, and low-income broadband users are being left behind with more expensive slow access by that same carrier.
Trump-appointed FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, who said Monday he will depart the commission on Jan. 20, leaves behind a controversial legacy: He’s regarded as either an exemplary change agent or an ideologue who forfeited consumer interests for commercial ones. To cable, telecommunications and consumer-electronics companies, Pai has been a model of transparency and a champion of free markets who cut away outdated regulations and laid the groundwork for the expansion of broadband to millions of Americans.
Washington, DC (October 29, 2020) - During Tuesday’s FCC open meeting, I was tweeting about the failures and falsehoods in the agency’s latest open-internet vote — a decision that involves so much more than just Net Neutrality rules, and that’s all about the Trump FCC’s unlawful abdication of its responsibility for broadband policy. The agency just released the final order, so this explainer recaps that Twitter thread and the Free Press research it came from. During tumultuous times it can be hard to focus on internet and media policy issues like these.
Five years ago, the movement for internet freedom won an important victory when the Federal Communications Commission reclassified the internet as a common carrier, making it like a utility that everyone should have equal access to without discrimination. That was quickly reversed in 2017 under the new chair of the FCC, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, who deregulated the internet giving the government no authority to oversee the internet service providers like Comcast and AT&T. I speak with Josh Stager of the Open Technology Institute about the ongoing fight to protect the internet and what we need to do next.
Washington, DC - On October 27, 2020, the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to reaffirm its 2017 repeal of net neutrality. The vote is a response to Mozilla v. FCC, a 2019 court ruling that found the FCC’s decision to repeal net neutrality was “unhinged from the realities of modern broadband service” and ignored the government’s duty to protect public safety, digital equity, and broadband competition. In February 2020, the FCC abruptly announced a short public comment period to address the ruling and the court-ordered remand, or do-over, of the net neutrality proceeding.
When the Department of Justice successfully broke up the AT&T monopoly into regional companies, it needed Congress to pass a law to open up the regional companies (known as Incumbent Local Exchange Carriers or ILECs) to competition. To do that, the Congress passed the Telecommunications Act of 1996 that established bedrock competition law and reaffirmed non-discrimination policies that net neutrality is based on. The law Congress created a new industry that would interoperate with the ILECs.
Washington - On Tuesday, Free Press filed a letter with the Federal Communications Commission that responded to the agency’s attempt to fix problems in its order that repealed Net Neutrality rules and tossed away its broadband-oversight authority. The proposal, scheduled for a vote at the FCC next week, responds to the decision by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit that remanded portions of the unpopular repeal to the agency for further consideration. Earlier this month, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai circulated his proposal to address three issues the court of appeals raised in 2019.
Washington - In a blog post on Monday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai wrote that he stands by the agency's unpopular repeal of Net Neutrality rules. Pai also circulated a proposal to address three issues raised in 2019 by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit when it remanded critical parts of that repeal and sent it back to the agency. At that time, the court commanded the FCC to examine the impacts of removing Title II as a source of authority for broadband’s inclusion in the Lifeline subsidy program.
Siding with The New York Times, a federal judge has ordered that the Federal Communications Commission must disclose information about users who submitted comments during the 2017 net neutrality proceeding, despite the agency’s objections that doing so could compromise people’s privacy. U.S. District Court Judge Lorna Schofield in the Southern District of New York ruled Thursday that disclosure of the data — including commenters’ IP addresses, time stamps and user-agent headers — is in the public interest, particularly given concerns that many comments were fraudulent.
It is not lost on some that, all of a sudden, paid sick leave is obviously socially important; understaffed hospitals are an outrage; and, really, shouldn’t the government be paying for this…? I mean, it’s community health we’re talking about! And all it took was a little pandemic—an outbreak that, as it just happens, doesn’t confine itself to low-income or non-white people. The New York Times‘ Farhad Manjoo (3/11/20) tried wistfully to imagine US companies and politicians taking seriously the coronavirus lesson of the need for a real social safety net and worker protections. Journalists could also themselves keep focus on enduring fissures that a public health crisis throws into relief. For example, as more schools move classes online, we could talk about the minimally 12 million, disproportionately African-American and Latinx students who don’t have internet access at home.
Internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon are free to slow down, block or prioritize internet traffic as they wish, without interference by the federal government. That’s the effect of an October ruling by the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, upholding a 2017 ruling by the Federal Communications Commission that reversed rules requiring what is called “net neutrality” – treating all internet traffic equally, regardless of where it’s from or what kind of data it is. Giving corporate telecom giants this power is wildly unpopular among the American people, who know that these companies have overcharged customers and interfered with users’ internet access in the past.
The telecommunications industry and their experts have accused many scientists who have researched the effects of cell phone radiation of "fear mongering" over the advent of wireless technology's 5G. Since much of our research is publicly-funded, we believe it is our ethical responsibility to inform the public about what the peer-reviewed scientific literature tells us about the health risks from wireless radiation. The chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently announced through a press release that the commission will soon reaffirm the radio frequency radiation (RFR) exposure limits that the FCC adopted in the late 1990s.