The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the North Carolina Department of Justice are weighing in on a court case that they say uses Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the law shielding the tech industry from liability for what users post — to skirt around other laws. Consumers filed a lawsuit over inaccurate information on publicdata.com, a website that gathers public information to compile and sell background check reports and is operated by a company called Source for Public Data.
Sen Mike Lee (R-UT), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel, is nowhere to be found on the list of senators sponsoring the bipartisan antitrust bill slated to be introduced next week. The effort, led by Senate Judiciary antitrust Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is the latest move in Congress’ efforts to rein in the tech giants.
The Federal Communications Commission is committing more than $1.1 billion as part of its $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program, aimed at boosting broadband access for students, school staff, and library patrons. The agency has already committed nearly $2.4 billion to date. The FCC has processed nearly 60% of the applications it received for emergency connectivity funding during an application window that closed in August, surpassing an internal goal to process 50% within two months.
The push to allow the 12 GHz band of spectrum to be used for 5G is taking on new significance, as broader infrastructure spending talks continue and SpaceX’s Starlink satellite broadband service prepares for a nationwide rollout. The 5G for 12 GHz Coalition, which represents more than 30 telecom companies, trade groups and public interest groups that want to open up the 12 GHz satellite airwaves for two-way 5G connections, told the FCC that it should move forward with a rulemaking to expand access to the band.
Democratic aides have been fleeing the Hill for lobbying gigs with major tech and telecom companies — just as lawmakers are preparing to tighten regulations on those same companies. More than a dozen senior Democratic tech and telecom policy staffers have left the Hill this year, many of them heading to the likes of Facebook, Apple, Verizon and Charter Communications. Others have left for Biden administration posts. They’re taking with them specialized knowledge on issues like artificial intelligence, data privacy and broadband.
Privacy advocates cheered the Federal Trade Commission’s decision to revive its rarely used “penalty offense authority” against for-profit colleges that make misleading or deceptive claims, a move that shows the agency is expanding its enforcement options after the Supreme Court gutted its authority to seek monetary damages from companies that engage in illegal conduct.
Lawmakers are getting frustrated with the Biden administration’s lack of urgency in appointing a fifth commissioner at the Federal Communications Commission. The five-member agency has been down a commissioner since former GOP Chair Ajit Pai vacated the position during the presidential transition. Democratic lawmakers and progressive groups expected President Joe Biden to move quickly on a nominee, since a fully staffed FCC would be crucial to achieving progressive goals like reinstating net neutrality rules and increasing transparency around internet billing.
After the Senate’s session with Facebook global head of safety Antigone Davis on September 30, close observers think bipartisan outrage may finally be strong enough for Congress to crack down on Facebook and its peers. “Facebook has given lawmakers and regulators an invaluable political opening to begin restructuring how it can do business, in terms of research, advertising and data use,” said Jeff Chester, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Digital Democracy.
The Senate has confirmed Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Commissioner Rohit Chopra to lead the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. With Chopra leaving and President Biden’s replacement pick, Alvaro Bedoya, in limbo, FTC Chair Lina Khan will no longer have a Democratic majority.
At stake is a $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill that would devote $65 billion to broadband efforts and a Democrats-only $3.5 trillion social spending package with its own billions for broadband, privacy and other tech and telecommunications priorities. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told her Democratic colleagues that the House would begin floor debate on the bipartisan infrastructure bill on September 27 and hold a vote on September 30, following