Tales of the Sausage Factory
Things have now come to an all-out war between the Department of Defense and the Federal Communications Commission, with the Defense Department claiming that a recent decision by the FCC (on a 5-0 bipartisan vote) resolving a decades-long dispute with a company now called Ligado will interfere with vital GPS operations.
The C-Band is a slice of spectrum that in the US that lies between 3.7 GHz and 4.2 GHz. When first authorized for commercial satellite use back in the day, these frequencies were considered far too high to have much value for terrestrial use.
The short version is that we lost the big prize (getting the Order overturned, or “vacated” as we lawyers say), but won enough to force this back to the Federal Communications Commission for further proceedings (which may yet result in the “Restoring Internet Freedom Order” or RIFO being reversed and/or vacated) and open up new fronts in the states.
A Tax on Silicon Valley Is A Dumb Way to Solve Digital Divide, But Might Be A Smart Way To Protect Privacy.
What sort of a tax on Silicon Valley (and others) might make sense from a social policy perspective? What about a tax on the sale of personal information, including the use of personal information for ad placement? To be clear, I’m not talking about a tax on collecting information or on using the information collected. I’m talking a tax on two-types of commercial transactions; selling information about individuals to third parties, or indirectly selling information to third parties via targeted advertising. It would be sort of a carbon tax for privacy pollution.
It was quite noteworthy to see Freshman Sen Josh Hawley (R-MO) tear the Federal Trade Commission a new one for its failure to do anything about how tech companies generally (and Google and Facebook specifically) vacuum up everyone’s personal information. I’m not going to argue with Sen Hawley, but since he is new in town I think it is important for him to understand why the FTC (and other federal agencies charged with consumer protection) have generally gone from fearsome watchdog to timorous toothless Chihuahua with laryngitis.
For the last 25 years, the official policy of the United States with regard to digital privacy has been to rely on "market mechanisms," primarily policed by the Federal Trade Commission's Section 5 authority to prosecute "unfair and deceptive" practices.
Net Neutrality Oral Argument Highlights Problem For Pai: You Can’t Hide The Policy Implications Of Your Actions From Judges.
On Feb 1, we had approximately 4.5 hours of oral argument on the network neutrality case. I want to just highlight one theme: the refusal of the Federal Communications Commission to be honest about the expected policy consequences of its actions. I highlight this for several reasons. First, people need to understand that while the agency can always change its mind, it has to follow the Administrative Procedure Act (APA), which includes addressing the factual record, acknowledging the change in policy from the previous FCC, and explaining why it makes a different decision this time around.
I thought I would point out some of the more fun arguments that may come up on Feb 1 in the oral argument in Mozilla v. FCC, the challenge to the Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO). As always, keep in mind that oral argument is a perilous guide to the final order, and the judges on the panel have a reputation for peppering both sides with tough questions.
Welcome to 2019, where you will find aggressively marketed to you a new upgrade in Wi-Fi called “Wi-Fi 6” and just about every mobile provider will try to sell you some “new, exciting, 5G service!” But funny thing. If you buy a new “Wi-Fi 6” wireless router you know exactly what you’re getting. It supports the latest IEEE 802.11ax protocol, operating on existing Wi-Fi frequencies of 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, and any other frequencies listed on the package.