By Steve Andriole for Forbes – Net neutrality is important to all things digital because it speaks directly to the governance and control of the world’s most important platform for communication, commerce, entertainment and education. The timing of the debate about net neutrality is especially important because of the explosion in the number of devices connected to the Internet through the so-called “Internet-of-Things” and “Internet-of-Everything.” Once everything is (more or less) connected, the world will change. The management of the platform and the applications will define life in the mid- to late 21st century. The Open Internet Order passed in 2015 with support from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
By Klint Finley for Wired – LITTLE SEEMS TO be standing in the way of Comcast, Verizon, and other internet service providers selling your personal information without your permission after the Federal Communications Commission took a first step toward delaying its own rules protecting consumer privacy and security. Last October the agency passed a set of rules that would have required internet providers to take new steps to protect your private data from hackers. That same regulatory package would have required ISPs to notify you if someone hacked your data and to get your active permission before selling your data.
By Mike Ludwig for Truthout – Ajit Pai, President Trump’s Republican pick to head the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), is already sparring with media reformers just weeks into his term. On Thursday, a coalition of 40 racial justice, labor and digital rights groups demanded that the commission reverse a recent order that they say has canceled subsidized internet service for 17,500 low-income customers. On February 3, the FCC began to roll back several Obama-era reform efforts, including orders allowing nine telecom companies to provide Lifeline services to people who have trouble affording internet service. The decision could make it difficult if not impossible for tens of thousands of low-income families and students to get online, according to the digital advocacy group Free Press. Under Pai, the FCC has also begun to undo agency efforts to keep media consolidation in check, examine net neutrality issues in mobile services and enhance transparency in political advertising.
By Popular Resistance. Washington, DC – Today marks the first public hearing by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) under the directorship of Chairman Ajit Pai, who was appointed by the Trump administration. A coalition of organizations that fought to win net neutrality through reclassification as a common carrier gathered outside the FCC beforehand to deliver 200,000 ‘love letters’ to the chair calling for the protection of net neutrality. They also brought large valentines. 32690768260_a61db7d763_zUpon their approach to the FCC door, the net neutrality protectors were met by the aggressive and angry head of FCC security backed up by several Department of Homeland Security SUVs filled with agents. The head of security demanded to see the contents of the red-wrapped boxes carrying the petitions and instructed the group to take their valentines off the premises. The net neutrality protectors complied after delivering the petitions and moved to an adjacent open grassy area.
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.