Monday, March 4, 2019
Headlines Daily Digest
Communications and Democracy
America’s Cities Are Running on Software From the ’80s | Bloomberg
Today's Top Stories
Gigi Sohn | Speech | Benton Foundation
For the uninitiated, net neutrality is the principle that the companies that provide access to the Internet – Comcast, AT&T, Charter and Verizon, among others – should not be able to block, slow down, or otherwise discriminate against any particular content, application, or service. In other words, the companies providing the on-ramp to the Internet should not be able to pick winners and losers on the Internet. The founders of the Internet built this network of networks precisely so that communication would be controlled by the people at the ends of the network – not by any person or corporation in the middle. Given the unique gatekeeping role broadband providers have, net neutrality simply codifies the founders’ intent.
The open and decentralized nature of the Internet has created the greatest network the world has ever seen. The open Internet has provided enormous economic opportunity to millions and has transformed education, health care, e-commerce, the arts, government services, and politics. The open Internet has prevented broadband Internet access service providers from favoring some speech over others, allowing anyone with a connection to speak, uncensored, to hundreds of millions of people around the world on about just about any topic you can imagine, be it climate change, food insecurity, criminal justice reform, infrastructure, immigration, foreign affairs or reproductive rights.
Putting the means of communication in the hands of ordinary people has been nothing short of revolutionary.
[Gigi B. Sohn is a Distinguished Fellow, Georgetown Law Institute for Technology Law & Policy and Benton Senior Fellow and Public Advocate.]
John Hendel, Margaret Harding McGill | Politico
President Donald Trump's reelection team is backing a controversial plan to give the government a role in managing America's next-generation 5G wireless networks — bucking the free market consensus view of his own administration and sparking wireless industry fears of nationalization. The plan — embraced by Trump 2020 campaign manager Brad Parscale and adviser Newt Gingrich — would involve the government taking 5G airwaves and designing a system to allow for sharing them on a wholesale basis with wireless providers. The idea is also being pushed by a politically connected wireless company backed by venture capitalist Peter Thiel that could stand to benefit. It's already getting pushback from industry, which dismisses the concept as untested and unworkable. But the Trump campaign is now fully embracing the model in a bid to woo rural voters who have long lacked decent internet service because wireless companies don't have a financial incentive to offer affordable broadband to all Americans, including those outside the biggest cities. “A 5G wholesale market would drive down costs and provide access to millions of Americans who are currently underserved,” said Kayleigh McEnany, national press secretary for Trump’s 2020 campaign. “This is in line with President Trump’s agenda to benefit all Americans, regardless of geography. Trump campaign advisers aren't offering an explanation for why their position is so different from the one embraced by the Trump administration, and they say they have no financial motivations for their stance.
Robbie McBeath | Analysis | Benton Foundation
On Feb 25, 2019, Free Press released Beyond Fixing Facebook. The authors, Timothy Karr and Craig Aaron, look beyond Facebook to address a deeper problem infecting the entire "attention economy": the abuse of targeted advertising. The report measures the rise of the online-platform business model against the fall of independent news reporting and calls for an economic realignment that recognizes the vital role noncommercial journalism plays in a democracy. The proposed solutions serve as a reminder that, although the situation is dire and requires urgent action, innovative ideas aimed at revitalzing the news and reinventing public-interest media are out there if we have the will to make them real.
Simon Van Zuylen-Wood | Vanity Fair
When it comes to figuring out how Facebook actually works—how it decides what content is allowed, and what isn’t—the most important person in the company isn’t Mark Zuckerberg. It’s Monika Bickert, a former federal prosecutor and Harvard Law School graduate. At 42, Bickert is currently one of only a handful of people, along with her counterparts at Google, with real power to dictate free-speech norms for the entire world. In a meeting room called "Oh, Semantics", she sits at the head of a long table, joined by several dozen deputies in their 30s and 40s. Among them are engineers, lawyers, and PR people. But mostly they are policymakers, the people who write Facebook’s laws. Like Bickert, a number are veterans of the public sector, Obama-administration refugees eager to maintain some semblance of the pragmatism that has lost favor in Washington.
Governing, by its nature, demands trade-offs. But much of the world right now is not in the mood for trade-offs. People gravitate to Facebook, in part, to live in cocoons of their own making. If Facebook has created a parallel online society for a quarter of the world to live in, the question facing Monika Bickert and her team is: What kind of society is it going to be?
Communications and Democracy
Brian Fung | Washington Post
A new executive order from the White House will aim to make federal research funding for colleges and universities contingent on their support for “free speech,” President Donald Trump said. The announcement, during Trump’s address to the Conservative Political Action Conference, appeared to target complaints by some university critics that institutions of higher education stifle right-wing viewpoints. “If they want our dollars, and we give it to them by the billions, they’ve got to allow people like Hayden and many great young people, and old people, to speak,” President Trump said, bringing onstage a young conservative, Hayden Williams, who was physically attacked in Feb while tabling for a conservative organization at the University of California at Berkeley. The executive order, President Trump said, would “require colleges to support free speech if they want federal research” money.
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.
© Benton Foundation 2019. Redistribution of this email publication — both internally and externally — is encouraged if it includes this message. For subscribe/unsubscribe info email: headlines AT benton DOT org
Executive Editor, Communications-related Headlines
727 Chicago Avenue
Evanston, IL 60202
headlines AT benton DOT org
The Benton Foundation All Rights Reserved © 2019