Tom Wheeler

AI makes the fight for net neutrality even more important

On April 25, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) will—for the seventh time in 20 years—address the issue of net neutrality.

Don’t be fooled: Net neutrality is about more than just blocking and throttling

On October 19, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) voted 3-2 to issue a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) to reinstate the agency’s 2015 decision that brought internet service providers (ISPs) under the agency’s jurisdiction as Telecommunications Carriers. This action is necessary because the Trump FCC repealed the previous rule in 2018 at the request of the ISPs.

The Supreme Court’s major questions doctrine and AI regulation

There is reason for optimism about the federal government stepping up to create a policy framework for artificial intelligence (AI) that will keep us safe while enabling innovations that will improve all our lives. But, beneath the surface, there is a shark in the water, ready to obstruct any congressional or administrative action. That shark is the Supreme Court’s “major questions doctrine.” Although Members of Congress have proposed to establish a new federal commission to protect consumers.

Toxic lead telephone lines: Searching for solutions

Millions of Americans could be affected by thousands of miles of toxic telephone cables. These old cables, legacies from the pre-internet, dial-up telephone era, are sheathed in lead, an element found to be toxic in humans.

The three challenges of AI regulation

The drumbeat of artificial intelligence (AI) corporate chieftains calling for government regulation of their activities is mounting. As Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Richard Durbin (D-IL) observed, it is “historic” to have “people representing large corporations… come before us and plead with us to regulate them.” There are three challenges for AI oversight: dealing with the velocity of AI developments, parsing the components of what to regulate, and determining

Are the FTC’s tools strong enough for digital challenges?

In a period of only nine days—April 25 to May 3, 2023—the the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced initiatives to look at unfair and deceptive acts involving AI and proposed banning Meta Platforms from targeting young users. These come on top of two years of antitrust aggressiveness and consumer protection assertiveness. But both actions beg the question, “Are the tools strong enough for the task?” Both the AI and Meta activities are indications of the limitations that FTC Chair Lina Khan and the agency face as a result of being tied to industrial-era statutes and procedures.

Time for a new digital regulatory authority

For platform companies, endorsing the concept of a new digital regulatory authority should be an act of enlightened self-interest. The idea that a handful of platforms can continue to make their own behavioral rules even when those decisions harm the public interest is no longer sustainable. The absence of a uniform federal policy is not only not in the interest of the public, but also it is creating problems for these companies. The ultimate uncertainty is a set of unknown decisions from multiple regulators.

The metachallenges of the metaverse

Online issues such as personal privacy, marketplace competition, and misinformation only become greater challenges in the metaverse. Rather than being distracted by the shiny new bauble, policymakers need to focus on the underlying problems of the digital revolution, which won’t go away with new technological developments.

Don’t replace the digital divide with the “not good enough divide”

COVID-19 demonstrated the need for speed in digital broadband connections. As more and more members of a household were online simultaneously doing schoolwork or working from home, the need for bandwidth increased.

Changing lives by connecting all Americans to broadband internet

Jackson County Kentucky has one stop light in its 347 square miles—but also high-speed fiber optic internet service to rival any big city. In the coal country of eastern Kentucky, the 800-person town of McKee is the hub of a one-thousand-mile fiber-to-the-home network covering two of the nation’s poorest and most remote counties. The fiber link was built almost entirely with dollars from the federal government. It is a powerful example of the infrastructure of the 21st century and the importance of extending those connections to all Americans.