Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 21, 2014

Posts in "Telecom"

December 19, 2014

FCC Rejects Complaint That Saying “Redskins” on the Radio Is Obscene

The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday rejected a request by George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf that it deny a license renewal for radio station WWXX over its broadcast of the term “Redskins.”

WWXX is run by Red Zebra Broadcasting, of which Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder is the primary investor.

Full story

By Anne L. Kim Posted at 11:14 a.m.
Telecom, Uncategorized

December 17, 2014

CFPB Files Mobile ‘Cramming’ Lawsuit Against Sprint

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Sprint on Tuesday, alleging  the company made wireless customers pay for unauthorized third-party charges over a roughly 10-year period.

“Sprint’s flawed billing system allowed unscrupulous merchants to add unauthorized charges to wireless bills, and consumers ended up paying tens of millions of dollars in such charges,” said CFPB Director Richard Cordray in prepared remarks.

The company “unfairly charged its customers by creating a billing and payment-processing system that gave third parties virtually unfettered access to its customers’ accounts,” which let third parties “cram” unauthorized charges onto bills, according to the lawsuit. Sprint automatically enrolled customers in the third-party billing system without them knowing and without consent and kept “operating its flawed system despite numerous red flags,” the complaint states.

Full story

December 15, 2014

Changes in Store for Republican Rosters of Senate Commerce and Judiciary Panels

It looks like changes on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee will happening on the Republican side of the panel as well next Congress.

On Monday, Senate Republicans announced committee assignments for the next Congress that starts in January, which the Republican Conference and the Senate will need to give formal approval.

The Senate Commerce panel’s Republican roster will add Jerry Moran of Kansas as well as the following new senators: Dan Sullivan of Alaska, Cory Gardner of Colorado and Steve Daines of Montana. Dan Coats of Indiana, and Tim Scott of South Carolina, are leaving the panel.

The Commerce Committee’s jurisdiction includes telecom and space issues.

A few changes are set for the Republicans on the Senate Judiciary panel as well, which has jurisdiction over intellectual property and some tech issues. David Vitter, R-La., will be added to the panel as well as new lawmakers David Perdue of Georgia and Thom Tillis of North Carolina. It looks like the Republicans who are currently on the panel will stay on the committee.

December 5, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Sports Blackouts, Intellectual Property Panel Chairman, Orion Test Flight

A Senate hearing on sports blackouts, the announcement of the next chairman of the House Judiciary subcommittee with jurisdiction over intellectual property issues and NASA’s Orion crew capsule’s first flight into space was among the news this week.

  • The Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing on sports blackouts and CQ Roll Call’s Rob Margetta reported (subscription) that senators and the National Football League exchanged threats over the issue.
  • A coalition of groups and companies, called the Stop Mega Comcast Coalition, opposing the Comcast Time-Warner merger was announced. The coalition includes satellite television provider Dish Network, Public Knowledge, Writers Guild of America, West, and NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association, and others.
  • House Judiciary Committee Chairman Robert W. Goodlatte, R-Va., announced Darrell Issa, R-Calif., as chairman of the Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet Subcommittee.
  • NASA’s Orion crew vehicle had its test flight which the Wall Street Journal described as “virtually flawless.” Technocrat had a preview here.
  • The Supreme Court heard oral arguments in the case of Pennsylvania resident Anthony Elonis, who was convicted in 2010 of a felony for making violent comments on Facebook and Technocrat had a roundup here.
  • Technocrat reported that Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.,  said there was “such potential for conflicting regulatory directives” from agencies when it comes to the Internet of Things and that the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee had a responsibility to “really look at the big picture and ensure that agencies aren’t conflicting with each other, that what is being done makes sense and… allows for future innovation that we can’t even anticipate right now.”

December 4, 2014

Rockefeller Gives Farewell Speech


Luncheons 02 042313 445x301 Rockefeller Gives Farewell Speech

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., interviewed by the press before the Senate policy luncheons in the Capitol. ( Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call)

The retiring chairman of the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee gave his farewell speech Thursday on the Senate floor and he mentioned a few science and tech-related items including surveillance overhaul legislation and the federal program that discounts phone and Internet service for schools and libraries, known as E-Rate.

In case you missed it, some quotes on tech and science issues from Sen. Jay Rockefeller‘s, D-W.Va., farewell speech are below.

On surveillance overhaul legislation.

He described it as having “reforms necessary to uphold the mission of protecting our nation.”

He said:

Because the global threats we face increase daily as the world becomes more connected, we depend on the highly trained professionals at NSA to zero-in on those threats. There’s really only 22 of them that make sort of final decisions. They’re highly trained. They’ve taken the oath of office to protect our nation.

“Now, I don’t think that we have any excuse to outsource our intelligence works to telecommunications firms,” he said. He added that his work on the Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation panel showed him what telecommunications companies do “when they think they can get away with it. You know, everything from cramming to just all kinds of not very nice things.”

He said it was the government’s job to address the matter, and that it’s been conducted successfully.

“A lot of people say oh well what if. But the fact of the matter is nobody has ever been able to show me somebody whose privacy has been, you know, influenced or broken into by the NSA,” he said.

On E-Rate (he was among the authors of the program):

“We have worked to give children a fair shot through the E-Rate, a program which introduces even the most rural classrooms and smallest libraries to the world through the Internet.”

On the science and research law known as the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act:

Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison (who preceded John Thune on the Commerce Committee) Senator Alexander and I sought unanimous consent to get the bill passed because we thought we’d worked out the details pretty well, and do it prior to the recess, therefore we had to do it by unanimous consent. But there were five objections holding the bill still. Instead of retreating to party corners and pointing fingers we compromised right on that center aisle…. And we had ourselves a $44 billion bill over five years on which we agreed. We didn’t have to have a vote. Sen Hutchison, Senator Alexamder tenaciously worked to clear the holds. It was, Madam President, absolutely beautiful. It was just beautiful.”

Rockefeller was greeted with handshakes and hugs from fellow senators after his speech.

December 1, 2014

The Week Ahead: Cybercrime, Telecommunications Law and the Internet of Things

I hope you had your rest and relaxation over the Thanksgiving holiday because things are kicking into gear again, with events on cybercrime, telecommunications law and the Internet of Things.


The Federalist Society for Law & Public Policy Studies holds an event on patent regulation and policy.

New America hosts talk with Shane Harris, author of “@War: The Rise of the Military-Internet Complex.”

New York University’s Information Law Institute and Microsoft’s Innovation & Policy center host an event titled “Building Privacy Into Data-Driven Education.”

The Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic  Public Policy Studies holds its U.S. Telecoms Symposium.

The Planetary Society holds an event on the future of solar system exploration.


The Bipartisan Policy Center holds an event on health information technology.

The Cato Institute hosts a talk with Terence Kealey, vice-chancellor emeritus at the University of Buckingham, on public funding of science and research.

The House Oversight & Government Reform Committee holds a hearing on the Digital Accountability and Transparency Act.

The Information Technology Industry Council and Intel host an event on technology, policy and emerging health crises.


Georgetown University Law Center and the Justice Department’s Criminal Division sponsor an event titled “Cybercrime 2020: The Future of Online Crime and Investigations.”

The Information Technology & Innovation Foundation’s Center for Data Innovation holds an event on the Internet of Things.

Republic 3.0 hosts a panel discussion on progressives and a rewrite of the 1996 Telecommunications Act.

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.

Full story

November 10, 2014

The Week Ahead: Net Neutrality, Cybersecurity and Lifeline

Congress returns for the lame duck session and events on net neutrality, cybersecurity and the Universal Service Fund’s Lifeline program are on tap this week.

Full story

November 7, 2014

Weekly Wrapup: Elections, FTC and Patent Assertion Entities and More

News from this week includes the mid-term elections, of course, and a Federal Trade Commission settlement with a patent assertion entity. Technocrat had some election and 114th Congress-related posts and we also covered a panel discussion on issues like revenge porn and the law.

Full story

November 6, 2014

Group Calls for Payment Changes in Lifeline Program, Looks to Food Stamp Program Model

Under a proposal by the Internet Innovation Alliance, beneficiaries of a federal program that discounts phone service for low-income Americans would directly get the subsidies through debit cards, the government would determine eligibility instead of phone companies and the program would expand to cover broadband.

And in the white paper calling for changes to the Federal Communications Commission’s Lifeline program, the group looks to the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (better known as food stamps) as a model for restructuring how payments are made. Criticizing the program’s structure, including the fact that reimbursements go to telecom companies instead of directly to consumers, the group writes:

In essence, the service provider-centric Lifeline Program is built like an upside-down Food Stamps program that limits consumer choice by paying a grocery store to allow consumers to shop only at that store. By contrast, the existing Food Stamps/SNAP program empowers consumers by providing a debit card that provides low-income shoppers with the freedom to choose among various service providers for a variety of items.

They propose modeling how payments are issued after the federal food assistance program in that individuals would get a debit card to use at authorized companies.

Full story

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