Tuesday, January 22, 2019
Headlines Daily Digest
FCC Reactivates Equipment Authorization System Despite Shutdown | Federal Communications Commission
Rep. Clarke Sends Letter to FCC on Employment Discrimination Protection | House of Representatives
Stories From Abroad
For municipalities looking to start their own broadband services, 2019 hasn’t gotten off to a great start. While there is more technical assistance available than ever before, the federal government’s partial shutdown has been a hindrance, said Chris Mitchell, the director of the Community Broadband Networks Initiative at the Institute for Local Self Reliance. Through its Rural Utilities Service program, the US Department of Agriculture provides rural development grants to municipalities and local governments applying to expand or construct broadband infrastructure, and the agency invested $228 million across 22 states in 2018. But until the federal government emerges from a shutdown that has so far lasted 27 days, the “provision of new rural development loans and grants” under the program will remain unfunded in 2019. And communities without broadband will remain cut off from assistance provided through the USDA.
Reps Tony Cárdenas (D-CA) and Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) have called on the Federal Communications Commission to protect incumbents in the C-Band. The C-band is currently used for satellite delivery of cable and broadcast network programming to TV and radio stations, satellite radio services, and cable head-ends. The FCC wants to open it up to wireless broadband to help close the digital divide and promote 5G, both prime directives for the commission. In a letter to the currently mostly shuttered FCC, the Reps said they had concerns about the proposed rulemaking to expand operations in the band, part of the FCC's overall mission to free up lots more spectrum, either through sharing or reclamation or both, for next-gen wireless broadband. They said they were all for expanding that high-speed broadband and closing the digital divide, including looking for new uses for the C-Band, but not at the expense of important existing services.
A Q&A with Shoshana Zuboff, author of "The Age of Surveillance Capital".
Zuboff's new book is not so much about the nature of digital technology as about a new mutant form of capitalism that has found a way to use tech for its purposes. The name Zuboff has given to the new variant is “surveillance capitalism”. It works by providing free services that billions of people cheerfully use, enabling the providers of those services to monitor the behaviour of those users in astonishing detail – often without their explicit consent. “Surveillance capitalism,” she writes, “unilaterally claims human experience as free raw material for translation into behavioural data. Although some of these data are applied to service improvement, the rest are declared as a proprietary behavioural surplus, fed into advanced manufacturing processes known as ‘machine intelligence’, and fabricated into prediction products that anticipate what you will do now, soon, and later. Finally, these prediction products are traded in a new kind of marketplace that I call behavioural futures markets. Surveillance capitalists have grown immensely wealthy from these trading operations, for many companies are willing to lay bets on our future behaviour.” Regarding the future of regulating surveillance capitlaism, Zuboff said, "Despite existing economic, legal and collective-action models such as antitrust, privacy laws and trade unions, surveillance capitalism has had a relatively unimpeded two decades to root and flourish. We need new paradigms born of a close understanding of surveillance capitalism’s economic imperatives and foundational mechanisms.”
Democrats raised fresh questions and Republicans pushed back Jan 20, after a BuzzFeed report alleging President Donald Trump directed Michael Cohen to lie to Congress exploded in the media over the weekend. Republicans swiped at BuzzFeed News and the media after special counsel Robert Mueller's office issued a rare statement that the story was not accurate. Vice President Mike Pence pointed to the reaction to the report as evidence that some are out to “get” President Trump. The president’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, suggested BuzzFeed should be sued. But Democrats appeared undeterred by the special counsel contesting the report, citing the claims in the BuzzFeed story as further proof that President Trump may have obstructed justice and requires investigation. BuzzFeed continues to stand behind its reporting in the story, even claiming "further confirmation" of its accuracy on Jan 20.
The National Association of Broadcasters has joined with other groups in the News Media for Open Government (NMOG) coalition to press the new Congress to better protect journalists, including the long-sought federal shield law that has been introduced in numerous Congresses over the past couple of decades. In its priority statement for the 116th Congress, NMOG says its agenda includes compliance with Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) reforms, reducing "unnecessary and costly" litigation over FOIA requests, and "ensuring that journalists are not impeded in their newsgathering practices through policies that chill the daily communications between government officials and the press." “Journalists take seriously their duty to investigate wrongdoing and hold government institutions and elected officials accountable without fear or favor,” said NAB president Gordon Smith. "The Founding Fathers’ guarantee of a free press safeguards the media's important role in a democratic society and provides for a more informed American citizenry. We strongly urge lawmakers to make protection of the First Amendment a priority in the 116th Congress."
A majority of Americans believe the news media do not understand people like them, and this feeling is especially common among Republicans. Overall, 58% of US adults feel the news media do not understand people like them, while 40% feel they are understood. Republicans, however, are nearly three times as likely to feel that news organizations don’t understand them (73%) as they are to say they feel understood (25%). By comparison, most Democrats (58%) say they feel understood by the news media, while four-in-ten say they do not. About three-quarters of Republicans who are very interested in the news (74%) say news organizations do not understand people like them – about the same share as among those who are somewhat interested (70%) and not interested in the news (78%).
Facebook launched Community Actions, a News Feed petition feature. Users can add a title, description, and image to their Community Action, and tag relevant government agencies and officials who’ll be notified. The goal is to make the Community Action go viral and get people to hit the “Support” button. Community Actions have their own discussion feed where people can leave comments, create fundraisers, and organize Facebook Events or Call Your Rep campaigns. Facebook displays the numbers of supporters behind a Community Action, but you’ll only be able to see the names of those you’re friends with or that are Pages or public figures.
The 116th Congress is underway. In the background of a partial government shutdown, lawmakers are getting their committee assignments. At Benton, we keep a close eye on two key Congressional panels because of their jurisdiction over many telecommunications issues and oversight of the Federal Communications Commission: 1) the House Commerce Committee's Communications and Technology Subcommittee, and 2) the Senate Commerce Committee. Here's a look at some key telecom policymakers -- and their priorities -- in the 116th Congress.
Benton (www.benton.org) provides the only free, reliable, and non-partisan daily digest that curates and distributes news related to universal broadband, while connecting communications, democracy, and public interest issues. Posted Monday through Friday, this service provides updates on important industry developments, policy issues, and other related news events. While the summaries are factually accurate, their sometimes informal tone may not always represent the tone of the original articles. Headlines are compiled by Kevin Taglang (headlines AT benton DOT org) and Robbie McBeath (rmcbeath AT benton DOT org) — we welcome your comments.
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