As Tennessee voters head to the polls, Senate candidate Phil Bredesen (D) is taking aim at Rep Marsha Blackburn’s legacy on broadband. In a recent campaign ad, former-Gov Bredesen calls out the House Telecommunications Subcommittee chair for having “voted against $600 million in broadband initiatives.” At issue: Blackburn’s March 2018 vote against the sprawling omnibus government funding bill that contained a series of committee-negotiated tech legislation central to Blackburn’s panel.
Jonathan Kanter, who has represented Big Tech rivals like Yelp and News Corp, skated through his nomination hearing for leader of the Justice Department's antitrust division without incident as both Democrats and Republicans lauded his tougher stance on regulating digital behemoths. It’s no surprise Democrats are backing President Biden's pick, a favorite among progressives and anti-monopoly advocates.
President Biden has been historically slow to appoint officials to the federal government’s top telecommunications agencies, and advocacy groups say the vacancies are preventing the administration from carrying out key agenda items, such as reinstating net neutrality rules killed during the Trump administration. Nearly eight months into his presidency, Biden has yet to pick permanent leaders for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA), which together oversee and set policy for the broadcast and Internet service in
Some of the Senate infrastructure bill's staunchest supporters say they are frustrated by what wasn’t included in the bill: provisions to encourage municipal broadband — Internet service that is partially or fully owned by local governments. Consumer advocacy and anti-monopoly groups say helping cities build their own Internet services is crucial for expanding connectivity nationwide, and they say it could also dramatically increase competition in areas where only a few major telecommunications companies dominate the market. Locally owned networks, proponents contend, aren’t driven by profi
Although Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai has yet to issue any plans for narrowing the liability protections for tech companies, as President Donald Trump and some conservatives want, he’s been keeping busy. Chairman Pai is attempting to knock out objectives by circulating proposals for votes rather than holding formal ones during the FCC’s last official meeting under him on Jan.
The new Congress just gaveled in Jan 3, but top lawmakers are already hashing out their priorities on tech policy. There’s bipartisan appetite for more broadband moves. Lawmakers made increasing broadband access a priority in the latest round of COVID-19 relief talks, allocating billions for the effort, but their work might not be through. Rep. Bob Latta (R-OH) said one of his top priorities will be to “keep expanding rural broadband.” “It's so essential to make sure that we have it across the entire country,” he said.
Democrats for years have pressured Silicon Valley companies to address their poor track records on workforce diversity. Now they’re calling on President-elect Joe Biden to do the same for federal agencies that oversee the tech industry.
Rep Greg Walden (R-OR), one of the most influential conservative figures in the technology and telecommunications policy landscape, is set to retire from Congress. He pushed back on GOP-led calls for the Federal Communications Commission to step in on Section 230, even as FCC Chairman Ajit Pai faces pressure to do so before he leaves the agencyin January: “I'm not so sure that I want the FCC in the middle of all of this,” Rep Walden said. “Even if some think they have the authority, I'm not convinced that's the case.