Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 20, 2014

Posts in "Net Neutrality"

December 19, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Sony Pictures, CFPB Sues Sprint, and Senate GOP Rosters Change

Holiday vacations are fast-approaching for many, but before you jet off, here’s a roundup of some news and Technocrat posts this week.

  • The Federal Bureau of Investigation announced that it has determined that North Korea was behind the cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment.
  • President Barack Obama said Sony Pictures had “made a mistake” in pulling the movie “The Interview.”
  • The White House’s announcement on Cuba included allowing commercial export of some communications devices and allowing telecommunications companies to establish infrastructure in Cuba so they can provide service.
  • The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Sprint, alleging the company billed wireless customers for unauthorized third-party charges over a roughly 10-year period.
  • There are some changes in store for the Republican rosters on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee and the Judiciary Committee .
  • A group of 36 Democrats in the House and Senate wrote to Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler, saying it’s “time for action” on net neutrality rules.
  • The Senate confirmed FCC commissioner Michael O’Rielly for a full five-year term that started July 1, 2014.
  • Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., wasn’t satisfied with Uber’s response to his letter where he raised privacy concerns.
  • The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it has an app to help the tipsy find a ride home.

December 12, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: E-Rate Funding Cap Increase, Internet Tax Moratorium and IP Nominees

Among the happenings this week: the Federal Communications Commission increased the funding cap on the E-Rate program, the Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on intellectual property nominees, and the spending package to fund the federal government includes provisions such as an extension of the Internet tax moratorium.

  • The House passed a spending package to fund the federal government that includes an extension of the Internet tax moratorium through Oct. 1, 2015. It also includes a provision that would block the National Telecommunications and Information Administration from relinquishing its responsibilities over Internet domain names and other domain functions. The NTIA wants to shift those duties to organizations with a stake in the Internet, but Republicans have opposed the change. The Senate’s now considering the package.
  • The Federal Communications Commission approved a measure that would raise by $1.5 billion the funding cap for the E-Rate program that helps schools and libraries pay for Internet access. And since the program’s supported by Universal Service Fund fees, consumers will see up to $1.90 in additional fees on their phone bills each year.
  • Sen. Charles E. Grassley, R-Iowa, who is expected to be the next chairman of the Judiciary Committee, made clear that the nominations of Michelle K. Lee to be director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office and Daniel H. Marti to be the White House’s intellectual property enforcement coordinator, wouldn’t advance in the 113th Congress, since there wasn’t enough time. But he also indicated that the nominations might be acted on early in the next Congress.
  • Technocrat had a Q&A with University of North Carolina law professor William P. Marshall about the Supreme Court case involving violent comments made on Facebook. You can find Part 1 here and Part 2 here.
  • The Telecommunications Industry Association organized a letter to FCC commissioners and House and Senate leaders opposing proposals to reclassify broadband as a common carrier as part of the FCC’s rewrite of net neutrality rules. Sixty companies signed on including IBM, Panasonic, Qualcomm, Cisco, and dLink.
  • BSA | The Software Alliance released a survey of roughly 1,500 business owners and decision makers in the U.S. and Europe on data analytics and among its U.S. findings: While 33 percent thought more than 10 percent of their company’s growth will be related to data analytics this year, 58 percent thought the same looking five years from now.

December 3, 2014

Could Reclassification of Broadband Under Title II Impact a Communications Act Overhaul?

A former chairman of the House Energy and Commerce subcommittee with jurisdiction over telecommunications policy contended Tuesday that a legislative overhaul of communications law would end up as collateral damage if the Federal Communications Commission reclassifies broadband as a common carrier under Title II of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

The question of whether the agency should reclassify broadband under Title II is a major point of contention in the policy debate surrounding net neutrality.

Saying that he was “stating the obvious when I say this,” former Virginia Democratic House member Rick Boucher at a panel event hosted by the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies said that “Congress, in the event that reclassification occurs, can pretty much put on the shelf any notion of passing a telecom reform.” He cited a “highly partisan debate” about net neutrality if reclassification occurs.

Boucher now is a partner at Sidley Austin LLP and honorary chairman of the Internet Innovation Alliance.

He said that if reclassification occurs, Congress would conduct numerous hearings, that the FCC chairman would end up repeatedly testifying on the Hill, that the agency would be occupied with responding to questions and that legislation would be introduced.

“If the debate about network neutrality creeps over into the telecom reform conversation, then I think it’s very difficult to get into the real issues,” he later said.

That would happen is reclassification occurs, he said, and what would result is that “any notion of a meaningful telecom reform” would need to be postponed for at least one Congress until the dust settles, he said.

November 25, 2014

Study Indicates Most Internet Users Understand Concept of Net Neutrality

According to a survey by Pew Research Center, the majority of Internet users correctly identified what the concept of net neutrality refers to.

The online survey released Tuesday – which quizzed roughly 1,000 Internet users between Sept. 12 and 18 – asked a number of questions, like whether Twitter has a 140 character limit and whether the Internet and the World Wide Web are the same.

One of the questions asked what net neutrality refers to, and according to Pew, 61 percent selected the correct answer from four options: “Equal treatment of digital content by internet service providers.”

Another 12 percent incorrectly chose the answer “The postings on websites that are nonpartisan” and 13 percent selected “A promise by users of some websites that they will not make critical comments.”

“The way Wikipedia editors are instructed to handle new entries on their site” was an answer selected by six percent of respondents and nine percent didn’t answer the question at all.

The percent of respondents who correctly answered a privacy-related question was much lower.

The survey found that only 44 percent of Internet users are “aware that when a company posts a privacy statement, it does not necessarily mean that the firm actually keeps in information it collects on users confidential.”

The majority – 52 percent – incorrectly answered that this statement was true: “When a company posts a privacy policy, it ensures that the company keeps confidential all the information it collects on users.”

November 17, 2014

The Week Ahead: Sports Blackouts, Intellectual Property and Smart Phone Encryption

It’s a busy week in Washington with several congressional hearings including one on sports blackouts and events on intellectual property and smart phone encryption.

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November 14, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Net Neutrality, Surveillance Overhaul Legislation & Drones

Net neutrality, surveillance overhaul legislation and drones are in your weekly wrap-up.

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Pai Sees Issues with Lawsuits, Lawmakers & Resources if FCC Goes Down Title II Path

pai 038 071012 445x308 Pai Sees Issues with Lawsuits, Lawmakers & Resources if FCC Goes Down Title II Path

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai testifies during a House Energy and Commerce Committee Communications and Technology Subcommittee hearing (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Here’s what FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai sees happening at the Federal Communications Commission if the agency decides to issue net neutrality rules by regulating broadband providers under the same part of telecommunications law that covers phone companies: a lot of resources spent on figuring out which parts of Title II apply, years of litigation and a nasty fight with lawmakers on the Hill.

At a speech Friday at a Free State Foundation event, the Republican commissioner said that if the agency goes down the path of regulating broadband under Title II, it would “devote countless resources to deciding which of the hundreds of pages of Title II regulations will apply to broadband service. We will embroil ourselves in years of litigation in the courts. And we will provoke a knock-down-drag-out fight with Congress” for least the coming two years, presumably referring to the GOP majority in the House and Senate next Congress.

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November 12, 2014

Reject Reclassification Proposals, GOP House E&C and Senate Commerce Lawmakers Write to Wheeler

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce and the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committees issued a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Wednesday calling for him to reject proposals for writing net neutrality rules that would reclassify broadband service under Title II of the Communications Act.

Referring to net neutrality principals the agency adopted nine years ago, the lawmakers wrote:

By any metric, the goals of these principles are being met and advanced by the private sector today without formal FCC rules. Recent proposals have suggested that the FCC can use its authority under Title II of the Communications Act to create legally enforceable rules to regulate Internet access. We believe this is beyond the scope of the FCC’s authority and would defy the plain reading of the statute.

The GOP lawmakers criticized calls to “forebear” against large parts of Title II, writing that it’s “hardly the panacea that reclassification advocates claim.” They also criticized a “hybrid” proposal by the Energy and Commerce panel’s top Democrat Henry A. Waxman, D-Calif., that suggested that the FCC should forbear most of the elements of Title II to broadband.

Wednesday’s letter comes just a couple days after President Barack Obama said in a statement that the agency should reclassify broadband while forbearing from “less relevant” provisions.

Mid-Week Catchup: Net Neutrality, Online Sales Tax & Trade Agreement

Issues in your Mid-Week Catchup include net neutrality, online sales tax legislation and a trade agreement:

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November 10, 2014

Roundup: Reactions to Obama’s Net Neutrality Statement

There was a flood of reactions to President Barack Obama’s net neutrality statement on Monday, with (predictable) criticism from Internet service providers and Republican lawmakers and support from public interest groups and Democratic lawmakers.

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