Lacking a Lifeline: How a federal effort to help low-income Americans pay their phone bills failed amid the pandemic
The coronavirus has reinforced the Internet as the fabric of modern American life, a luxury-turned-necessity for a generation now forced to work, learn and communicate primarily through the Web. But it also has laid bare the country’s inequalities — and the role Washington has played in exacerbating these long-known divides.
California may soon begin enforcing its first-in-the-nation net neutrality law after a federal judge ruled against broadband providers that had sought to scuttle the state’s open-Internet safeguards.
Comcast will suspend its new fees on heavy home Internet users in more than a dozen Northeastern states, reversing course on a policy that threatened higher bills for some families amid the coronavirus pandemic. Comcast will postpone the new charges after Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D-PA) raised concerns that Comcast’s policy threatened to disproportionately harm cash-strapped Americans who are learning, working, and communicating primarily online.
More than three years ago, Jessica Rosenworcel could only react in horror as her Republican counterparts on the Federal Communications Commission voted to repeal the US government’s net neutrality rules. Now, Acting FCC Chairwoman Rosenworcel controls the very commission she once criticized for failing to heed the public’s outcry.
President-elect Joe Biden is set to have a very different relationship with the tech industry from when he served as vice president. Tech companies have grown more powerful over the past four years — and more perilous. They have continued to amass data and wealth. But they have been used as tools for election interference and disinformation, contributing to the divide in the nation.
President Donald Trump said that the social media sites had made a “catastrophic mistake” and acted in a politically “divisive” manner after punishing him for comments the companies said threatened to incite violence.
The Federal Trade Commission and 48 state attorneys general filed wide-ranging antitrust lawsuits against Facebook, setting the stage for a potential breakup of the social-networking giant over charges it engaged in illegal, anti-competitive tactics to buy, bully or kill its rivals. The twin lawsuits filed in federal district court chiefly challenge Facebook’s past acquisition of two companies: Instagram, a photo-sharing tool, and WhatsApp, a messaging service.
The Senate confirmed Nathan Simington as a new Republican member of the Federal Communications Commission, a move that threatens to saddle the nation’s foremost telecom regulator with political deadlock at the start of the Biden administration. The chamber backed Simington on a 49-46 vote, installing a new commissioner at the FCC who has pledged “regulatory stability” and expressed an openness to using the agency’s rule-making powers to explore the way social-media sites handle political speech.
President-elect Joe Biden and top congressional Democrats are laying the groundwork to seek a massive increase in federal broadband spending in 2021, hoping they can secure billions of dollars in new government aid to improve Internet access and affordability — and help people stay online during the pandemic. Party leaders are mulling a wide array of proposals that would extend the availability of broadband in hard-to-reach rural areas, raise Internet speeds for American households, assist families who are struggling to pay their Internet bills and provide more funding to schools for comput