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.
A coalition of Hispanic groups is renewing calls for President Joe Biden to “name a person of Latino descent” to the Federal Communications Commission. The campaign comes as the White House forges ahead with the long-stalled nomination of Gigi Sohn. The groups lamented that the FCC has lacked a Latino commissioner for over two decades and said appointing one would make it “more likely” the agency would “champion equitable language access” and push for more inclusive internet access policies.
The Federal Communications Commission has been without a Democratic majority for the entirety of President Biden’s 21-month tenure, hamstringing efforts to restore open internet protections and close the digital divide. Breaking the deadlock at the Federal Communications Commission hinges on confirming Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institue for Broadband & Society], a longtime public interest advocate and former Democratic FCC official who was first nominated by the White House nearly a year ago.
Senate Commerce Chair Maria Cantwell (D-WA), whose panel controls the fate of any data privacy bill, stated she’s not close to supporting a major proposal recently unveiled by Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and Senate. In addition, she said Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) has said he will not bring the current bill up for a vote in the upper chamber, signaling roadblocks for the push.
After Russia launched its invasion, Ukrainian officials pleaded for Elon Musk’s SpaceX to dispatch their Starlink terminals to the region to boost Internet access. “Starlink service is now active in Ukraine. More terminals en route,” Musk replied to broad online fanfare. Since then, the company has cast the actions in part as a charitable gesture.
On January 11, the Senate confirmed Google and Mozilla alum Alan Davidson as director of the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA). The agency will steer $48 billion in federal funding for broadband deployment, a massive sum that will test its capacity. Former NTIA chiefs David Redl and Larry Irving highlighted what they see as the biggest hurdles for Davidson and the agency’s upcoming agenda.
Congress will reconvene in mid-November to discuss Democratic lawmakers’ massive social spending proposal, the Build Back Better Act, which is poised to provide a historic funding boost to regulators who police the technology sector for privacy, competition and consumer protection abuses, among other key initiatives. Key provisions in the latest version of the bill aim to:
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.