Margaret Harding McGill
Federal Communications Commission chairman Ajit Pai says online platforms should be forced to explain their practices in the much the same way he required of broadband providers like Comcast and AT&T. Chairman Pai paired those transparency requirements with his 2017 repeal of net neutrality rules. He also took a dig at online companies that supported net neutrality rules for broadband providers who appear to be "unwilling to abide by" similar rules themselves.
Silicon Valley's leading lobby, the Internet Association, is struggling to manage the competing interests of the companies it represents just as the industry faces a tide of bipartisan anger. Lobbying hasn't been working for tech for a while because too many firms are working at cross purposes. "A trade association can only do what its members tell it to do," said one person familiar with IA's work. "Facebook begging to be regulated puts the smaller companies in a bad position.
Elon Musk is under siege by fellow billionaires at Amazon and Dish as he tries to get his fledgling space-based broadband service off the ground, with clashes involving airwave overload and the threat of satellite collisions. competitors are pressing the Federal Communication Commission to stymie Musk's SpaceX service. Dish, the satellite company founded by billionaire Charlie Ergen, has urged the FCC to allocate the airwaves covered by the FCC's new study for 5G service. SpaceX fears 5G services would interfere with Starlink, with Elon Musk calling FCC Chairman Ajit Pai and other commissio
Georgia's election results handing Senate control to Democratic lawmakers mean the incoming Biden administration can fill key seats at the agencies that regulate tech.
As the pandemic forces students out of school, broadband deployment programs aren't going to move fast enough to help families in immediate need of better internet access. But Democrats at the Federal Communications Commission say the incoming Biden administration could put a dent in that digital divide with one fast policy change.
With the Federal Trade Commission expected to unveil long-awaited antitrust action against Facebook in the near future, the agency's mixed record on regulating tech has experts viewing the case as a "put up or shut up" moment. Most of the tech cases the FTC has tackled involve consumer protection rather than restraining monopolistic behavior. Past antitrust investigations of tech mergers or companies, like a review of Google that ended in 2013, led critics to paint the FTC as toothless.
President Donald Trump is pushing the Senate to confirm Nathan Simington, his hand-picked nominee for a seat on the Federal Communications Commission, but some don't expect him to get his wish. If Simington is confirmed first, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell "may see the bigger picture — keeping the FCC at 2-2 is better for a conservative approach to regulatory policy than allowing the Democrats to hit the ground running with a 2-1 advantage," said former Pai aide Nathan Leamer, now vice president at public affairs firm Targeted Victory.
The Lifeline program, administered by the Federal Communications Commission, provides a $9.25 monthly subsidy (more on tribal lands) to companies that provide phone or broadband service to low-income consumers, generally at no out-of-pocket cost to the customer. But, less than a fifth of the 38 million households that qualify for the program are actually enrolled. And despite a recent uptick, enrollment remains down sharply from the Obama era. "It's very clear that the program is needed now more than ever," said FCC Commissioner Geoffrey Starks.
Internet service providers' pledges to waive fees and forgive missed payments end on June 30, likely cutting off service for some families who can't pay their bills due to the economic impact of the pandemic. Congress hasn't included funding to pay for broadband bills in its previous COVID-19 packages.
A bipartisan group of lawmakers is circulating a draft letter to be sent to the White House requesting additional relief targeted specifically at local newsrooms. The letter asks President Trump to: