FCC chair’s battles extend beyond net neutrality

Wherever you may fall on the budget concerns of an uncapped program like Lifeline, Jon Brodkin’s piece contains enough to worry about in terms of Pai’s continuing dismantling of his predecessors service to the public interest. Re-raising the bar on ISPs wanting to offer subsidized service, regardless of the cap issue, clearly says a lot about Pai’s stance of meaningful adoption and access.

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Comcast tries to quiet efforts to reveal its astroturfing the FCC’s net neutrality proceedings

Hardly surprising that Comcast would sink to both astroturfing then trademark bullying to try to keep it hidden. Good reporting by Brodkin, especially that Fight for the Future has a solid legal precedent on their side. For now, Comcast seems to be backing off. More important is the remaining question of what the FCC will do with the proven faken comments in support of dismantling the net neutrality rules.

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House Republican unveils internet privacy bill

The Hill has the details of Blackburn’s bill which are exactly what the right said they wanted when they repealed the FCC’s pending privacy rules. Worth noting is that this would apply to ISPs and content companies alike along with moving oversight and enforcement to the FTC. No idea if this will shore up the FTC’s authority but the concern I have is its track record in this space, which is not great, and the fact that it traditionally has had far fewer staff technologists to help with efforts like these than the FCC.

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FCC taking first vote on rolling back net neutrality this week

As Hillicon Valley notes, this is just the first step of what will take several months either way. Thanks to the attention of John Olliver and the support of orgs like EFF and FftF, the public interest has strongly waded into the fray. Like FftF, I am deeply skeptical of the FCC’s claims that the overloading of the comments system was the result of multiple denial of service attacks. Clearly there has been some automated actions but this issue resonates with the public more than folks at the agency will admit.

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2017-05-07 The Command Line Podcast

This is an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

I talk about the privacy rules repeal at the FCC and the fight starting to shape up again over network neutrality.

You can directly download the MP3 or Ogg Vorbis audio files. You can grab additional formats and audio source files from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

FCC eliminates condition on ISP merger

The hits keep coming under the new administration and with the new FCC chair. This time, Pai’s FCC has removed a condition of Charter merging with TWC and Bright House Networks. The agency’s thought process reads like the sort of double speak we’ve come to expect: by removing the requirement to provide meaningful access, they ensure the ISPs can focus on providing meaningful access.

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FCC Passes Network Neutrality Rules

The dilution of strong network neutrality continued yesterday with the FCC approving the draft plan as released earlier in a three to two vote. Matthew Lasar at Ars Technica has a good summary of the proceedings, including initial reactions from those supporting network neutrality.

Even before today’s vote, some reform groups expressed their disappointment with the mildness of the decision; for instance, here’s a dispatch from the Media Access Project.

“MAP respects and admires the work of Commissioners Michael J. Copps and Mignon Clyburn on this important issue, but MAP cannot support the watered-down, loophole-ridden option that the FCC appears to have chosen,” the group’s statement last night declared. (Note that Chairman Genachowski doesn’t share in this admiration.) “The inadequate protections for wireless technologies are especially troublesome, as wireless services provide an onramp to the Internet for many of the nation’s poor and minority citizens.”

Cellular internet is to be held to the weaker, partial standard already mentioned. So-called special services are still granted a troubling exemption except for some vague notions of monitoring for anti-competituve behavior. For the most strictly regulated wired internet, loopholes abound in the form of allowances for “reasonable” network management where the measure of reasonableness isn’t clearly defined.

Ryan Singel at Wired, with help from Sam Gustin, has some more supposition on how we came to this lamentable pass, namely the nigh unstoppable lobbying power of AT&T. He at least concedes that part of the reason for the weakness of the new rules stems from the commission’s unclear authority in the wake of the ruling against it in the Comcast case over the cableco’s throttling of BitTorrent traffic.

What we’re left with is undoubtedly a long chain of future case law to try to pin down the shape and size of the various loopholes in this plan. Meanwhile, ISPs and carriers will no doubt get a pass to pretty much carry on as usual. Like many others, I am left wondering why the commissioners who supported Title II re-classification didn’t push harder. That too would have led to any number of court cases but would have been far more fruitful, in the meantime, and in the process of whittling down a coarse but strong set of rules would have been far more certain to yield a final set of compromises giving as much weight to public interest as to the unending rent-seeking of the ISPs and carriers.