Daily Digest 1/25/2019 (Trump Adviser Roger Stone Arrested)

Benton Foundation
Table of Contents


Roger Stone, Adviser to Trump, Is Indicted in Mueller Investigation  |  Read below  |  Mark Mazzetti  |  New York Times, Washington Post
Kamala Harris’ 2020 Launch Impresses Digital Operatives  |  Daily Beast


It's Now Clear None of the Supposed Benefits of Killing Net Neutrality Are Real  |  Read below  |  Karl Bode  |  Vice
North Carolina, nation’s first gigabit state? That’s the goal, say state officials  |  WRAL


Chairmen Pallone and Doyle Question FCC on Potential Effort to Game Judicial Lottery  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  House Commerce Committee
Auction 101 Bidding Concludes  |  Read below  |  Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission
Senators Markey, Klobuchar, Udall, Baldwin, Blumenthal Call for Senate Commerce Hearing on Proposed T-Mobile-Sprint Deal  |  US Senate
Senators Call on FCC & FTC to Investigate How Wireless Carriers Sold American’s Mobile Phone Locations To Data Brokers, Bounty..  |  US Senate
Google Pitches NTIA on Dynamic Spectrum Sharing  |  Broadcasting&Cable
NAB to NTIA: Spectrum Plan Must Be Based in Sound Engineering, Not 5G 'Slogans'  |  Broadcasting&Cable
California’s Public Advocates Office argues strongly against T-Mobile/Sprint merger  |  Read below  |  Matt Kapko  |  Fierce
The Wireless Industry's 5G Hype Is Funny and Overblown  |  Read below  |  Amir Nasr  |  Analysis  |  New America
Vermont officials suspected cellphone coverage maps were too good to be true. They were right.  |  Read below  |  April McCullum  |  Burlington Free Press
mmWave Coalition urges NTIA to facilitate access to spectrum above 95 GHz  |  Fierce
Mobile Network Experience report: Verizon reclaims lead over T-Mobile in network strength  |  Fierce
Report: Average Mobile Download Speeds Exceed 20 Mbps for Verizon and T-Mobile  |  Open Signal
Research: risky phone use while driving is soaring and it's killing Americans  |  USA Today
Have Cellphones Become Boring? Well, They’re About to Get Weird  |  Wired


Monopoly is breaking America’s free press; it’s time to break monopoly  |  Read below  |  Press Release  |  Open Markets Institute
The Facts About Facebook  |  Read below  |  Mark Zuckerberg  |  Op-Ed  |  Wall Street Journal
Facebook knowingly duped game-playing kids and their parents out of money  |  Center for Investigative Reporting


Opinion: Is Big Tech Merging With Big Brother? Kinda Looks Like It  |  Wired
Shoshana Zuboff: ‘Surveillance capitalism’ has gone rogue. We must curb its excesses.  |  Washington Post
Mark Jamison: How much is it worth for companies to gather information on customers? Quite a bit to both customers and companies  |  American Enterprise Institute


Google Urged the US to Limit Protection for Activist Workers  |  Read below  |  Josh Eidelson, Mark Bergen  |  Bloomberg
Facebook CEO’s Foundation, Firms to Raise $500 Million for San Francisco-Area Housing  |  Wall Street Journal


Op-Ed: Yes, “algorithms” can be biased. Here’s why  |  Ars Technica
Study: on Twitter, limited number of users are spreading fake info  |  Associated Press
Jonathan Cresswell, the man who helps the internet make fake news  |  Columbia Journalism Review
Front Porch Forum: How the Vermont Social Network Became a Model for Online Communities  |  Vox
Video: 5 social media apps your kids dig and you should learn  |  USA Today
Google's Proposed Changes to Chrome Could Weaken Ad Blockers  |  Wired
Who Posted Viral Video of Covington Students and Protester? Congress Wants to Know  |  New York Times
  • Farhad Manjoo: The controversy over the Covington students shows why American journalism should disengage from Twitter  |  New York Times


Op-ed: What is Fox News? Researchers want to know  |  Columbia Journalism Review
Peter Hamby -- "The News is Dying, But Journalism Will Not": How the Media Can Prevent 2020 from Becoming 2016  |  Vanity Fair
Michael Barone: Does the media deserve to be respected and believed?  |  American Enterprise Institute

Civic Engagement

Public’s 2019 Priorities: Economy, Health Care, Education and Security All Near Top of List  |  Pew Research Center


In 116th Congress, at least 13% of lawmakers are immigrants or the children of immigrants  |  Pew Research Center

Stories From Abroad

Chinese Telecommunications Companies Huawei and ZTE: Countering a Hostile Foreign Threat  |  George Mason University
China Says Australian Writer Is Being Held for Threatening State Security  |  Wall Street Journal
Canada’s ambassador to China said he regrets remarks on Meng Wanzhou’s strong case to fight extradition to US  |  Wall Street Journal
Tonga hit by near-total internet blackout  |  BBC
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s obsession with the press  |  Economist, The

Company News

Condé Nast to Put All Titles Behind Paywalls  |  Wall Street Journal
Today's Top Stories


Roger Stone, Adviser to Trump, Is Indicted in Mueller Investigation

Mark Mazzetti  |  New York Times, Washington Post

Roger J. Stone Jr., a longtime informal adviser to President Donald Trump who has spent decades plying the dark arts of scandal-mongering and dirty tricks to help influence American political campaigns, was arrested after an indictment was unsealed in the special counsel investigation. Stone was charged with seven counts, including obstruction of an official proceeding, making false statements and witness tampering, according to the special counsel’s office. Three senior Trump campaign officials have told Mueller’s team that Stone created the impression that he was a conduit for inside information from WikiLeaks. Stone not only seemed to predict WikiLeaks’ actions, but also that he took credit afterward for the timing of its disclosures that damaged Hillary Clinton’s candidacy. Stone indicated that he had advance knowledge that a trove of information damaging to Clinton’s campaign might be about to spill into public, and even suggested that he had personally spoken to the WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange. Stone has acknowledged exchanging messages during the 2016 campaign with Guccifer 2.0, a Twitter persona that U.S. intelligence officials say was a front operated by Russian military officers who conspired to hack Democratic emails.


It's Now Clear None of the Supposed Benefits of Killing Net Neutrality Are Real

Karl Bode  |  Vice

In the months leading up to the Federal Communications Commission assault on net neutrality, big telecom and FCC Chairman Ajit Pai told anybody who’d listen that killing net neutrality would boost broadband industry investment, spark job creation, and drive broadband into underserved areas at an unprecedented rate. As it turns out, none of those promises were actually true. Despite the FCC voting to kill the popular consumer protections in Dec 2017, Comcast’s latest earnings report indicates that the cable giant’s capital expenditures (CAPEX) for 2018 actually decreased 3 percent. The revelation comes on the heels by similar statements by Verizon and Charter Spectrum that they’d also be seeing lower network investment numbers in 2018. 

It’s not expected to get any better in 2019. “The cornerstone of Ajit Pai’s net neutrality repeal order has quickly crumbled,” said Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate Gigi Sohn. “The broadband industry's reduction in investment and CAPEX in the wake of Ajit Pai’s repeal of the net neutrality rules proves what advocates for Internet openness have known all along—neither the rules nor Title II authority had any effect on broadband investment.”


Chairmen Pallone and Doyle Question FCC on Potential Effort to Game Judicial Lottery

Press Release  |  House Commerce Committee

House Commerce Committee Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) and Communications and Technology Subcommittee Chairman Mike Doyle (D-PA) sent a letter to Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai requesting information about what communications may have taken place between FCC and FCC licensees relating to legal challenges of the Commission’s Accelerating Wireless Broadband Deployment by Removing Barriers to Infrastructure InvestmentDeclaratory Ruling and Third Report and Order. It has come to Pallone and Doyle’s attention that the FCC may have sought to stack the deck against local governments by directing carriers to challenge the Order in separate circuit court jurisdictions, with the goal of moving the case out of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Democrats requested that Chairman Pai provide answers to the following questions and provide the requested documents within three weeks of the FCC receiving normal operational funding:

  • Did the FCC have communications with an FCC licensee relating to the legal challenges or potential legal challenges of the Order?
  • If so, identify every person(s) and/or FCC employee(s) involved in the communication(s), describe in detail the communication(s), and provide all documents in your possession, custody, or control relating to such communication(s).
  • Did any person at the FCC and/or FCC employee at the FCC urge an FCC licensee to challenge the Order?
  • To the extent that an FCC licensee refused to challenge the Order, has any person at the FCC and/or FCC employee threatened or taken adverse action against such FCC licensee, including but not limited to delaying consideration of items or issue of interest to such person?

Auction 101 Bidding Concludes

Public Notice  |  Federal Communications Commission

The Federal Communications Commission's Wireless Telecommunications Bureau and the Office of Economics and Analytics report that there were no bids, withdrawals, or proactive activity rule waivers placed in round 176 of Auction 101, the FCC’s auction of licenses in the 27.5–28.35 GHz (28 GHz) band. Therefore, bidding in the FCC’s first auction of Upper Microwave Flexible Use Service (UMFUS) licenses has concluded under the simultaneous stopping rule. Auction 101 raised (in gross bids) a total of $702,572,410 with a total of 2,965 28 GHz UMFUS licenses won.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai said:

The successful conclusion of our nation’s first high-band 5G spectrum auction is a significant step toward maintaining American leadership in 5G. But we can’t afford to rest on our laurels—and won’t. The FCC will continue to aggressively push more spectrum into the commercial marketplace. Our 24 GHz auction will begin soon, and we will then hold an auction of three more spectrum bands later this year. By making more spectrum available, promoting the deployment of wireless infrastructure, and modernizing our regulations—the three components of the FCC’s 5G FAST plan—we’ll ensure that American consumers reap the substantial benefits that will come from the next generation of wireless connectivity.

California’s Public Advocates Office argues strongly against T-Mobile/Sprint merger

Matt Kapko  |  Fierce

California’s Public Advocates Office, a nonpartisan and publicly funded agency that advocates on behalf of California residents with respect to energy, water, and communications regulations, strongly recommended a denial of T-Mobile’s proposed merger with Sprint. In testimony given to California’s Public Utilities Commission, the office said the proposed transaction should be blocked “because of the irreparable damage to competition in the wireless market and the low-income customer markets as well as the absence of specific, measurable and verifiable benefits attributable to the merger.” Losing a competitive player in these markets “would create significant risk of parallel conduct and higher pricing for consumers,” particularly if, as proposed, the “New T-Mobile would rival or exceed [AT&T and Verizon] in market share, creating a strong incentive for oligopolistic behavior,” the office testified. The combined company would also “comprise nearly 60% of the wireless prepaid market that predominantly serves low-income customers, placing excessive market power under the control of a single company and creating a virtual monopoly over these services.”

The Wireless Industry's 5G Hype Is Funny and Overblown

Amir Nasr  |  Analysis  |  New America

You’ve likely heard of 5G, the next-generation wireless network, and how it will change broadband, the economy, and society in massive ways. Companies have even been falling over one another to say that they’ll be the first to offer this new, “life-changing” technology. The problem? These claims are, as yet, untested, and they could be used to justify actions that would hurt not only the broadband market, but also consumers. This kind of hype isn’t new. The prospect of new technology will always fuel excitement from enthusiasts who believe that it will radically transform the space. Still, it’s important to maintain realistic expectations. 5G may change society in ways that we can’t imagine. But these benefits are years from actually happening—and it shouldn’t be a factor in whether to permit a merger that would harm the US wireless industry and consumers.

[Amir Nasr is a policy program associate at New America’s Open Technology Institute]

Vermont officials suspected cellphone coverage maps were too good to be true. They were right.

April McCullum  |  Burlington Free Press

Cell carriers claim that you should be able to stream online video on your cellphone almost anywhere in Vermont. But in some places in the state, it's not even possible to make a phone call. A Vermont Department of Public Service official spent about six weeks proving that point to the federal government. Corey Chase, the department's telecommunications infrastructure specialist, drove around Vermont with six cellphones, each connected to a different carrier. The result is the first independent map of Vermont cell service that's rooted in experience. The new map shows that cell carriers have overstated their coverage in large swaths of Vermont. 


Monopoly is breaking America’s free press; it’s time to break monopoly

Press Release  |  Open Markets Institute

Open Markets Institute calls on Congress and the Federal Trade Commission to immediately investigate how to protect America’s independent news media from the power and predatory business models of Google and Facebook. The two corporations routinely exploit their position as essential information platforms to divert vital advertising revenue away from the free press into their own pockets. What America’s journalists and citizens need is a regulatory environment that empowers publishers to deal directly with readers and advertisers, and to experiment with new subscription models without moment-to-moment meddling and manipulation by Google and Facebook. As Congress already knows, the Facebook and Google monopolies pose many other immediate and fundamental threats to our democracy, especially the role they play in broadcasting the lies and misinformation that disrupted the 2016 elections and that continue to tear at American society.

The Facts About Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg  |  Op-Ed  |  Wall Street Journal

Fifteen years ago, I realized you could find almost anything on the internet—music, books, information—except the thing that matters most: people. So I built a service people could use to connect and learn about each other. I’ve heard many questions about our business model, so I want to explain the principles of how we operate. I believe everyone should have a voice and be able to connect. If we’re committed to serving everyone, then we need a service that is affordable to everyone. The best way to do that is to offer services for free, which ads enable us to do. People consistently tell us that if they’re going to see ads, they want them to be relevant. That means we need to understand their interests. So based on what pages people like, what they click on, and other signals, we create categories and then charge advertisers to show ads to that category. We give people complete control over whether we use this information for ads, but we don’t let them control how we use it for security or operating our services.

[Zuckerberg is founder and CEO of Facebook]


Google Urged the US to Limit Protection for Activist Workers

Josh Eidelson, Mark Bergen  |  Bloomberg

Google has been quietly urging the US government to narrow legal protection for workers organizing online. During the Obama administration, the National Labor Relations Board broadened employees’ rights to use their workplace email system to organize around issues on the job. In a 2014 case, Purple Communications, the agency restricted companies from punishing employees for using their workplace email systems for activities like circulating petitions or fomenting walkouts, as well as trying to form a union. In filings in May 2017 and November 2018, Google urged the National Labor Relations Board to undo that precedent and a George W Bush-era precedent—allowing companies to ban organizing on their employee email systems—should be reinstated. 

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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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