On Nov 27, the Senate Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Consumer Protection held an oversight hearing on the Federal Trade Commission. The hearing examined the FTC’s “priorities in promoting competition and consumer protection, the ongoing innovation hearings and how changes in technology impact the agency, and whether the FTC should have expanded authority with respect to privacy and data security.” In other words -- is the FTC doing a good enough job? And if not, what needs change?
On Nov 14, the New York Times detailed Facebook’s multi-pronged campaign to “delay, deny and deflect” efforts to hold the company accountable. This is far from the first time we’ve read disturbing accounts of Facebook’s unethical behavior, but this week the Times peeled back the curtain on the company’s crisis management techniques, public relations tactics, efforts to influence lawmakers, and aggressive lobbying. The peak at these practices helps explain why the social media giant has been so successful at avoiding meaningful regulation.
The purposes of antitrust law can be broad; the mechanism of antitrust is legal. This is the core of Brandeis’s approach—to find enforceable legal standards that identify harmful industrial conduct in a manner that vindicates social and democratic values through the careful delineation of institutional roles. That job was made easier because Louis Brandeis subscribed to the view that these social and democratic values were all threatened by monopoly; thus by focusing on the practicalities of competition, antitrust statutes could advance broader societal interests as well.
Rural broadband got an upgrade this week. The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is investing $91 million in broadband infrastructure. As Benton readers know, broadband access in rural areas is a huge challenge: according to the Federal Communications Commission, 80 percent of the 24 million American households who lack reliable, affordable, high-speed internet access are in rural areas. The USDA has been investing in rural telecommunications infrastructure for decades.
I believe that Louis Brandeis’ progressive framework can help us navigate the future of antitrust:
The midterms just completed (except for recounts) were historically important, and in this critical time for our democracy, we must try to make some sense of where we are. The bad news is split government; the good news is split government.
Tuesday, Nov 6 was Election Day in the United States. At the national level, Republicans kept control of the US Senate, while Democrats won enough seats to win control of the US House of Representatives. At Headlines, we keep a close eye on two key Congressional committees because of their jurisdiction over many telecommunications issues and oversight of the Federal Communications Commission: 1) the Senate Commerce Committee and 2) the House Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee. What did we learn about the new Congress?
A mass murderer shot and killed 11 people at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh (PA) on Oct 27, in what is believed to be the deadliest attack against the Jewish community in the United States, ever. The mass shooting followed a week of reporting on a series of bombs sent by a FL terrorist to prominent Democrats, George Soros, and CNN. Both men posted violent, hateful content online, including politically extremist views on immigration. The events tragically bring into focus, again, the very-real danger of hateful political rhetoric.
Brandeis’s view of progressive governance meant that the government could improve itself and the lot of its people. The Brandeisian approach to competition has five parts; together they comprise the framework for progressive governance in the field of competition. 1. Antitrust and Social Issues. 2. Translating Social Issues Statutory Commands. 3. The Institutional Approach. 4. The Role of Competition. 5. The Spirit of Experimentation. Louis Brandeis viewed America itself as an experiment.
On October 25, 2018, President Donald Trump signed a Presidential Memorandum ordering federal agencies to review their existing spectrum usage, forecast future demands, and prepare a plan for research and development that will enable better use of spectrum in the future.