By Marguerite Reardon for CNET. Pai often goes out of his way to be nice. He’s the kind of person who remembers co-workers’ birthdays or your kids’ first names. It doesn’t matter if you’re a congressman from California or the parking attendant at the lot near the FCC’s headquarters, Pai offers a folksy and sincere greeting to all. He always has a kind word for colleagues, even when they stand on the opposite side of the aisles. “He made the chairman’s life miserable,” said Gigi Sohn, a former adviser to the previous head, Tom Wheeler, in reference to their constant ideological clashes. “But I like him. Everyone likes him.” This nice guy is no pushover, though. The 44-year-old chairman has already introduced a number of programs and steered the FCC in a different direction from his predecessor. And he’s still gearing up for his biggest move: the takedown of many of the regulations that protect net neutrality, the concept that all internet traffic must be treated as equal.
By Jon Brodkin for US Senate Democrats today vowed that they won’t let net neutrality rules be eliminated without a fight, and they urged citizens to make their voices heard by lawmakers and Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai. “Remember that two years ago, nearly 4 million Americans offered comments on the Open Internet Order,” Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) said at a press conference this morning (video). “That’s by far, by a factor of at least two, more than any comments on any rule before the FCC in history.” But if Congress and the FCC try to eliminate net neutrality rules, there will be a “political firestorm that will make the 4 million who communicated several years ago look like a minuscule number,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said.
By Alex Byers and Tony Romm for Politico – President Donald Trump will tap Ajit Pai as his pick to lead the FCC in the new administration, elevating the sitting GOP commissioner to the top spot overseeing the nation’s communications industry, according to four industry sources familiar with the decision. The announcement could come as soon as this afternoon, the sources said. Pai, a Barack Obama nominee who has served as the senior FCC Republican for more than three years, could take the new role immediately and wouldn’t require approval by the Senate because he was already confirmed to serve at the agency. A spokesman for Pai declined to comment and the Trump transition team did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
By Aaron Pressman for Fortune – President-elect Donald Trump formally named two staunch opponents of net neutrality to oversee his policies for the agency that created the rules to prevent discrimination against Internet sites and online services. Jeff Eisenach, an economist who has been on Verizon’s payroll, and Mark Jamison, who formerly worked on Sprint’s lobbying team and now heads the University of Florida’s Public Utility Research Center, on Monday were named to Trump’s “agency landing team” for the Federal Communications Commission.
By Soo Rin Kim for Open Secrets – Four years after it began requiring TV stations to upload their records of political ad sales to a central government website, the Federal Communications Commission maintains a recordkeeping system that makes finding out who an ad’s sponsor is feel like a treasure hunt. In 2012, the FCC approved a rule requiring broadcast stations in the largest markets to upload the files showing who bought time for political ads
By Craig Aaron for Freepress – In a tremendous victory for Internet freedom the DC Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in a 2-1 decision that the FCC was within its statutory power to put in place net neutrality rules. The rules ensure equal access to the Internet as well as equal service and upholds the principle that broadband providers must treat all Internet traffic the same regardless of source. The key to the decision was that the FCC reclassified the Internet under Title II of the Federal Telecommunications Act as a common carrier.
By Timothy Karr for Free Press – WASHINGTON — According to several news reports, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to approve Charter Communications’ $90 billion takeover of Time Warner Cable and Bright House Networks. The merger combines the nation’s second-, third- and sixth-largest cable-TV and Internet providers. After the merger closes, two Internet service providers, Charter and Comcast, will control nearly two-thirds of the nation’s high-speed Internet subscribers.
By Joseph Torres and Steven Renderos for Free Press – The broadband marketplace isn’t just broken; it’s harming millions of our society’s most vulnerable members, who are unable to afford at-home broadband service. This comes at a time when having Internet access is essential to filling out a job application, completing homework or applying for government services. A recent Pew Research Center report found that U.S. broadband-adoption rates among adults dropped from 70 percent in 2013 to 67 percent in 2015. The numbers are even more dismal among communities of color: Adoption plummeted from 62 percent to 54 percent for Black households and from 56 percent to 50 percent for Latino homes.
By John Eggerton for Multichannel – According to someone following the budget bill as well as a check of the FCC-related section of the 2,000-plus page opus, the riders that would have blocked or limited the FCC’s implementation of network neutrality rules did not make it onto the compromise bill hammered out late Tuesday (Dec. 15). That is no big surprise since the Obama Administration said that ideological riders could lead to a veto of the bill and the President was a vocal supporter, some would say a motivating force as well, of the FCC’s decision to reclassify ISPs under Title II common carrier regulations. Cable operators were not expecting them to survive the negotiations.
By Jon Brodkin for ARS Technica – Internet providers suing the Federal Communications Commission to overturn net neutrality rules got their day in court today as oral arguments were heard by a three-judge panel at the US Court of Appeals in Washington, DC. A decision might not come for months, but net neutrality supporters said the judges’ questions indicate that a ruling may defer to the FCC’s determination on the crucial question of whether Internet providers can be reclassified as common carriers. Opponents of the net neutrality rules believe the judges are skeptical about some of the FCC’s arguments, however.
By Jacob Gershman for The Wall Street Journal – Net neutrality is going back on trial this week when one of the most powerful courts in America considers whether the Federal Communications Commission can go forward with its plan to impose utility-like regulations on broadband providers. The FCC earlier this year came out with a new set of Internet regulations, the agency’s latest attempt to advance “open Internet” rules that essentially require equal treatment of Internet traffic. A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on Dec. 4 is hearing the telecom industry’s challenge to the rules.
By Brian Dolinar for Truth Out – For Annette Taylor of Illinois, weekly phone calls are a lifeline, connecting her to the two sons she has in prison. “Getting those phone calls keeps us going,” she said, “not just them inside, but us too.” Although she has been convicted of no crime, she feels she is also being punished by the high cost of these calls. Thousands of mothers like Taylor are soon to see their phone bills reduced. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) is poised to make a decision this month that will overhaul the industry that for decades has been making millions from phone calls made by incarcerated people throughout the United States.
By Alisha Green for Truthout, The Federal Communications Commission’s defense of its rules regulating broadband services in court has a free speech element that could have wide implications for how the Internet should function and consumers’ access to online content. The FCC not only faces a challenge to its authority to make the net neutrality rules. But both sides in the case are also citing First Amendment rights to free speech, potentially setting up a legal showdown on the issue. David Post, a retired Temple University law professor and a former clerk for Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, said the disagreement hinges on whether the net neutrality rules deprive Internet-service providers of First Amendment rights to “editorial discretion.” But Post noted the impact would depend on whether the court chooses to address the issue directly.
By Marvin Ammori in Slate – Because the victory at the FCC is so important for economic policy and was so shocking a political victory, many news organizations have profiled those responsible. Over the past months, in addition to me, many men have received credit—including Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler, President Barack Obama, HBO host John Oliver, and Tumblr CEO David Karp. While these men (and others, especially in the nonprofit community) played critical roles, none deserves more credit than the frequently overlooked women who helped lead the fight. Even if we guys managed to hog the credit afterward, a disproportionate number of women in the public interest, tech, and government communities had the guts and brains to lead the public to victory. They canceled annual vacations, worked around the clock, didn’t see friends and family as often as anyone would want—and ran a brilliant campaign. They should be recognized.