Senate Commerce’s top Republican, Sen Roger Wicker (R-MS), is calling for a new hearing on Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society]. He wants to dig into ethics questions after obtaining and reviewing the terms of the confidential $32 million settlement that broadcasters struck with shuttered TV streaming service Locast in 2021 (Sohn was on the board of the Sports Fan Coalition nonprofit, which ran Locast).
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google chief executive Sundar Pichai personally approved a secret deal that gave the social network a leg up in the search giant’s online advertising auctions, attorneys for Texas and other states alleged in newly unsealed court filings.
Three former Federal Communications Commission public safety chiefs endorsed Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] for the open Democratic commissioner slot. In a pair of letters to the Senate Commerce Committee on January 3, Jamie Barnett, David Simpson and David Turetsky — who all worked at the FCC during the Obama administration — said Sohn has strongly supported law enforcement and first responders.
Facebook conditioned its $5 billion payment to the Federal Trade Commission to resolve the Cambridge Analytica data leak probe on the agency dropping plans to sue Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg individually, shareholders allege in a lawsuit. Two groups of shareholders claimed that members of Facebook’s board allowed the company to overpay on its fine in order to protect Zuckerberg, the company’s founder and largest shareholder.
As the Senate chips away at final passage of the $550 billion infrastructure package, the compromise’s top detractors are fretting about where negotiators placed the agreed-upon $42.5 billion in broadband deployment grants for states.
Carl Shapiro, the lead economics expert in the Federal Trade Commission’s antitrust suit against Facebook, has parted ways with the agency—adding yet another impediment to the regulator’s largest court fight. The University of California-Berkeley economist has criticized new FTC Chair Lina Khan’s aggressive approach to antitrust enforcement, and she in turn has faulted the agency’s traditional reliance on economists’ analyses in its fights against alleged monopolists.
Apparently, the Biden team is vetting Jonathan Sallet — a former top lawyer under the Obama administration and architect of net neutrality rules — for a top antitrust post. One possible job would be heading the Department of Justice’s powerful Antitrust Division. Sallet’s name has been in the mix for that post for several weeks.
The Obama-era Federal Trade Commission spent 19 months investigating Google over allegations that it violated antitrust laws by favoring its own products over rivals’ in search results. The agency ultimately voted against taking action, saying changes Google made to its search algorithm gave consumers better results and therefore didn’t unfairly harm competitors. That conclusion underplays what the FTC’s staff found during the probe.
Peter Buttigieg, the former mayor of South Bend (IN) and President Biden’s nominee to head the Transportation Department gave a shoutout to broadband internet during his Senate Commerce nomination hearing on Jan 21, which could help elevate the issue in a Biden infrastructure push. Buttigieg will be a leading figure on infrastructure matters if confirmed. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), who co-chairs the Broadband Caucus, used her questioning to probe the matter.
Adam Candeub, the acting head of Commerce’s National Telecommunications and Information Administration, has been named deputy associate attorney general. The political appointment does not require congressional confirmation. Candeub helped lead President Donald Trump’s crackdown against social media companies. Candeub has played a central role in carrying out Trump’s executive order targeting social media companies like Twitter and Facebook over allegations they censor conservative viewpoints.