Daily Digest 3/22/2019 (Bernard Krisher)

Benton Foundation
Table of Contents

FCC April Agenda

The Next Big Thing  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission


Chairman Pai Remarks At USTelecom Forum on Broadband Mapping  |  Read below  |  FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commission
USTelecom: Reinventing broadband mapping is needed to close the digital divide  |  Read below  |  Jonathan Spalter  |  Op-Ed  |  C|Net
Millions of Americans still can't get broadband. Here’s a potential fix  |  Read below  |  Marguerite Reardon  |  C|Net
Net Neutrality Activists Plan New Protests  |  Broadcasting&Cable


T-Mobile launches fixed wireless broadband service pilot for 50,000 homes  |  Read below  |  Kendra Chamberlain  |  Fierce
NAB Considers Microsoft White Space Proposal's for Rural's Sake  |  Broadcasting&Cable
Sprint CEO Michel Combes talks to FCC about challenges for a stand-alone Sprint  |  Kansas City Business Journal
TV white space advocates applaud FCC’s rule changes  |  Fierce
SHLB Applauds FCC's TV White Spaces Approval  |  Schools Health and Libraries Broadband Coalition


Assistant AG Delrahim, Commissioner O'Rielly Spar Over Roles in Antitrust Reviews  |  Read below  |  John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable
Beto O'Rourke sounds off on big tech companies; says government needs to treat them 'a little bit more like a utility'  |  Business Insider
FTC plans broad review of tech data practices  |  Read below  |  Nancy Scola, John Hendel  |  Politico
Public Knowledge Looks Forward to FTC Data Practices Study  |  Public Knowledge
Court filing claims Facebook knew of Cambridge Analytica data misuse earlier than reported  |  Read below  |  Julie Carrie Wong  |  Guardian, The
Analysis: Mark Zuckerberg's new Facebook plan could make it harder to stop spread of violent videos  |  CNN
This psychologist claims Google search results steer voters to the left. Conservatives love him  |  Los Angeles Times


Opt-In Privacy System Could Benefit Large Companies, FTC Chairman Suggests  |  MediaPost
Whoops, we stored your passwords in a readable format  |  Facebook
Michael Cohen investigators relied on controversial cell-tracking device StingRay  |  Washington Post
Major US research universities are cutting ties with Chinese telecom giant Huawei  |  Los Angeles Times
This clever scam lets advertisers make money by draining your Android phone  |  Vox


Tech's scramble to limit offline harms from online ads  |  Axios
Jack Shafer: Don’t Censor the New Zealand Shooting Videos  |  Politico


The MPAA says streaming video has surpassed cable subscriptions worldwide  |  Vox
Comcast Launches Xfinity Flex, a $5-a-Month Streaming Platform for Internet-Only Customers  |  Multichannel News


FCC Fines Carrier $2.32 Million for Slamming and Cramming  |  Federal Communications Commission


Republicans and Democrats have never been more divided on confidence in the media  |  Read below  |  Philip Bump  |  Analysis  |  Washington Post
Emily Bell: Terrorism bred online requires anticipatory, not reactionary coverage  |  Columbia Journalism Review
Finalists announced in 2019 Mirror Awards competition  |  Newhouse School of Public Communications Syracuse University

Government & Communications

As Trump gears for reelection, @WhiteHouse account attacks the press  |  Read below  |  Jon Allsop  |  Op-Ed  |  Columbia Journalism Review
But their emails: Seven members of Trump’s team have used unofficial communications tools  |  Washington Post
Jared Kushner Uses Non-Official Messaging for Official White House Business, Lawyer Says  |  New York Times

Elections & Media

We're living in a digital world... but campaigns are lagging behind  |  Tech For Campaigns

Communications & Democracy

Improving Transparency and Promoting Free Speech in Higher Education  |  Read below  |  President Donald Trump  |  Press Release  |  White House
Secretary DeVos Issues Statement on President Trump's Higher Education Executive Order  |  Department of Education
Critics Worry Trump’s Free Speech Order Could Limit Expression, Research  |  Wall Street Journal
President Trump’s free speech executive order isn’t about free speech  |  Vox


President Trump Nominates Michael Kratsios for Chief Technology Officer  |  Read below  |  President Donald Trump  |  Public Notice  |  White House

Stories From Abroad

A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments  |  Read below  |  Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman, Ronen Bergman, Nicole Perlroth  |  New York Times
Why big tech should fear Europe  |  Economist, The
The European Union's Latest Fight Against Terrorism Online Explained  |  Vox
Analysis: The world is coming after Silicon Valley. Tech companies must evolve to survive  |  CNN
Facebook to reexamine how livestream videos are flagged after Christchurch shooting  |  Washington Post
Spreading the Mosque Shooting Video Is a Crime in New Zealand  |  New York Times
Today's Top Stories

FCC April Agenda

The Next Big Thing

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Press Release  |  Federal Communications Commission

The agenda for the Federal Communications Commission's April open meeting:

  1. Gear up for an auction of the upper 37 GHz, 39 GHz, and 47 GHz spectrum bands: The public notice makes proposals and asks questions about the essential features of this auction.
  2. Facilitate next-generation wireless services in the 37 GHz band: This proposal would finalize arrangements for the upper 37 GHz band by establishing a process for the Department of Defense to operate there on a shared basis in limited circumstances. This proposal would also establish rules authorizing Fixed-Satellite Service operators, such as satellite broadband service operators, to license individual earth stations in the 50 GHz band.
  3. Over-the-air reception devices: current rules prohibit state and local restrictions that unreasonably impair the ability of users to deploy these devices, but they don't apply to antennas operating as hub or relay antennas used to transmit signals to or receive signals from multiple customer locations—in short, the kind of equipment that could be used for innovative new wireless services. We will propose to update these rules.
  4. Modernize or eliminate outdated rules. The rules on the block:  A) the "rate floor" that requires certain rural carriers that receive Universal Service Fund support to impose minimum monthly rates for telephone service, B) requirements that cable companies to keep a hard copy of current listing of the cable television channels it offers, C)  the rule that smaller, rural incumbent carriers offer long-distance telephone service through a separate affiliate -- the order under consideration would also relieve incumbent carriers from the obligation to submit unnecessary reports about their legacy "special access" services and from a duplicative statutory provision regarding access to telephone poles.


Chairman Pai Remarks At USTelecom Forum on Broadband Mapping

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai  |  Speech  |  Federal Communications Commission

Having accurate broadband deployment data is important to the Federal Communications Commission’s work for a lot of reasons. First, our decision-making should be based on rigorous analysis. Second, good broadband deployment data helps the Commission target our policies and resources as effectively as possible. And third, broadband deployment data empowers consumers. Accurate information on Internet access options can be useful if you’re moving to a new area and trying to decide where you want to live, or if you’re dissatisfied with your current service and want to change providers. It’s with this context that I’m pleased that US Telecom, along with broadband industry partners ITTA and WISPA, are taking up the cause. The mapping pilot project they are announcing today is intended to help flesh out the record in our Form 477 reform proceeding. By testing new ideas on the ground, it is my hope that this pilot and similar initiatives will give the Commission and other stakeholders useful information to consider as we move ahead. 

USTelecom: Reinventing broadband mapping is needed to close the digital divide

Jonathan Spalter  |  Op-Ed  |  C|Net

USTelecom is leading the charge on a new, more precise, approach to broadband reporting and mapping. We have proposed to Congress and regulatory agencies a method to create a public-private partnership to map America's broadband infrastructure so policymakers and providers can better target scarce funding to communities with limited or no service options. Currently, the Federal Communications Commission collects some deployment data from broadband providers by census block. What is lacking in that methodology, however, is location data on the homes and businesses that are not accurately reflected in the census block data collected today. We need a detailed map of all the locations where people live and work (using a single methodology) so providers can efficiently plan and deploy network facilities that can service these locations. The map will provide critical insights for federal agencies and states so their broadband deployment policies are effectively targeting unserved locations. 

Our plan begins with a pilot program (funded by broadband providers) to test the concept in Missouri and Virginia, states with a mix of rural and urban communities where there is a range of fixed service providers using different technologies to provide connectivity. The pilot will include several steps: 

  • First, development of a database of all broadband serviceable locations in the country with input from broadband provider address databases and other public and private third-party sources, such as land records.
  • Next, once the gathered inputs are harmonized and duplicates removed, our technology and database experts will geocode the locations, converting them into geographic coordinates on a map. This geocoded list of locations would be ready for broadband providers to overlay their service coverage areas, regardless of technology and the speeds offered in those locations.

[Jonathan Spalter is the president and CEO of USTelecom]

Millions of Americans still can't get broadband. Here’s a potential fix

Marguerite Reardon  |  C|Net

USTelecom, an industry group representing carriers like AT&T, CenturyLink, and others serving rural America, says it may have the fix for broadband mapping that will provide far more granularity in the data than ever before. The lobbying group will work with other telecom industry groups, including WISPA, which represents fixed wireless providers, and ITTA, which represents smaller rural carriers, to pilot a new mapping program in two states: Virginia and Missouri. They say the program will lead to the creation of a better, more accurate nationwide broadband deployment map. While USTelecom's plan sounds good on paper, there are skeptics who worry that solely depending on a plan crafted by the broadband industry will always be inherently flawed. After all, the model relies on those carriers to report where they're offering service, which has proven to be inaccurate in the past.

Kevin Taglang, executive editor at the Benton Foundation, said he thinks the level of granularity that USTelecom hopes to achieve would go a long way in making the maps more accurate. But he's surprised that the proposal has come from the telecom industry, which he says has traditionally resisted reporting such specific data. Still, if the pilot is successful and produces more accurate maps, Taglang said he's open to it. "I'm skeptical," he said. "But if it's a great idea, it's a great idea. It doesn't matter where it comes from, but until I see the details I can't really comment."

T-Mobile launches fixed wireless broadband service pilot for 50,000 homes

Kendra Chamberlain  |  Fierce

T-Mobile is launching a pilot home broadband service to a small group of its wireless subscribers. The invitation-only pilot will connect around 50,000 homes of subscribers to a fixed wireless access service on T-Mobile’s LTE network. The company said it’s targeting rural and underserved areas of the country and expects to be able to deliver 50 Mbps to residents. The service will cost $50 per month to subscribers who sign up for autopay, and will be free of data caps, annual service contracts, or equipment costs. 


Assistant AG Delrahim, Commissioner O'Rielly Spar Over Roles in Antitrust Reviews

John Eggerton  |  Broadcasting&Cable

Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim and Federal Communications Commissioner Michael O'Rielly offered different perspectives on how the government should treat antitrust cases - especially in the media industry. Delrahim suggested that courts should "bifurcate trials," with one segment evaluating the transaction and another phase offering a remedy. He warned that, "Defendants, not the public, should bear the burden of proof of whether [a merger or acquisition] does likely harm to competition" and he urged that "courts should be careful in the future." Delrahim also acknowledged that, "Our market definitions change." "There is a lot of convergence of different forms in [the media] industry," he said. "We look at the facts of the market as well as the changes in technology."

"His standards stink," said FCC commissioner Michael O'Rielly, describing Delrahim's approach. "That's the issue. We have to modernize how we examine the marketplace, across segments. Everyone is in the same market. The big tech companies are trying to steal everyone's lunch."  "All types of providers are figuring out what they want to be in this business." That was a theme of the Commissioner's speech, in which he emphasized the need for better local awareness and oversight of new unregulated entrants competing entrenched cable operators. "Your companies have invested heavily to meet the immediate and long-term commercial and consumer demand for broadband speeds and capacity, despite a vastly changing marketplace and revenue streams," he said. Commissioner O'Rielly lamented that, "You have been under constant attack by those pointy-headed liberal advocacy groups hell-bent on driving profit margins to zero."


FTC plans broad review of tech data practices

Nancy Scola, John Hendel  |  Politico

According to a series of letters from Federal Trade Commission Chairman Joe Simons to US senators, the agency is planning to launch a wide-ranging study of tech companies' data practices. He wrote that the FTC is planning to conduct a so-called 6(b) study, which the agency has previously applied to data brokers and businesses accused of abusing the federal patent system. He suggested the study would target large tech firms but didn't specifically name companies like Google, Facebook or Amazon. In such a study, the agency can order companies to turn over detailed information about their business practices. That could force tech companies to share closely held corporate secrets about their inner workings that they've long resisted disclosing.

Court filing claims Facebook knew of Cambridge Analytica data misuse earlier than reported

Julie Carrie Wong  |  Guardian, The

Facebook knew about Cambridge Analytica’s “improper data-gathering practices” months before the Guardian first reported on them in Dec 2015, according to a court filing by the attorney general for Washington DC. The new information “could suggest that Facebook has consistently mislead [sic]” British lawmakers “about what it knew and when about Cambridge Analytica”, tweeted Damian Collins, the chair of the House of Commons digital culture media and sport select committee (DCMS) in response to the filing. In a statement, a company spokesperson said: “Facebook absolutely did not mislead anyone about this timeline.”


Republicans and Democrats have never been more divided on confidence in the media

Philip Bump  |  Analysis  |  Washington Post

More than two-thirds of Republicans say they have little confidence in the media, a figure that has risen nearly 20 points since 2014. On the other end of the political spectrum, fewer Democrats express low confidence in the media than at any point in nearly 30 years. The result is a gap of 43 points between members of the two parties, a broad gulf on whether the news media is trustworthy. 

Government & Communications

As Trump gears for reelection, @WhiteHouse account attacks the press

Jon Allsop  |  Op-Ed  |  Columbia Journalism Review

Day in, day out, the @WhiteHouse Twitter account shills for President Donald Trump, coordinating messages that cast his presidency in a positive light. But @WhiteHouse, which has over 18 million followers, doesn’t just share policy accomplishments and favorable statistics: it aims snarky put-downs at Trump’s critics and the news media, and retweets some of the president’s most concerning anti-press attacks. While journalists obsess over the @realDonaldTrump account’s every missive, @WhiteHouse goes mostly under the radar.

Government & Democracy

Improving Transparency and Promoting Free Speech in Higher Education

President Donald Trump  |  Press Release  |  White House

President Donald Trump is signing an Executive Order that promotes free speech on college campuses. Agencies will take appropriate steps to ensure that college and university campuses are places of free thought and debate. The Trump Administration believes that public schools should fulfill their obligation to uphold the First Amendment and private schools should comply with their stated institutional policies regarding free speech. The Trump Administration believes that schools should promote free speech and be transparent about their speech policies.

 The Trump Administration will ensure students have access to information they need to make the higher education decisions that work best for them.


President Trump Nominates Michael Kratsios for Chief Technology Officer

President Donald Trump  |  Public Notice  |  White House

President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate Michael J. K. Kratsios of South Carolina, to be an Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy. Upon appointment, designate him to be the United States Chief Technology Officer.

Stories From Abroad

A New Age of Warfare: How Internet Mercenaries Do Battle for Authoritarian Governments

Mark Mazzetti, Adam Goldman, Ronen Bergman, Nicole Perlroth  |  New York Times

Sophisticated surveillance, once the domain of world powers, is increasingly available on the private market. Smaller countries are seizing on the tools — sometimes for darker purposes.

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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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