Developments in telecommunications policy being made in the legal system.
The Supreme Court said Google did not violate copyright law when it developed its Android mobile operating system using code from Oracle, a much-anticipated ruling in the tech world that saves Google billions of dollars in potential damages. The court ruled 6 to 2 for Google in the case, which has major implications for the software industry. Matt Schruers, president of the trade group Computer and Communications Industry Association, said the court’s ruling “that fair-use extends to the functional principles of computer code means companies can offer competing, interoperable products.”
The Supreme Court vacated a lower court opinion that said President Donald Trump could not block critics from his Twitter feed, which since has been suspended by the company. The US Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit in New York had ruled that because the president had used the forum to regularly communicate with the public, he could not block critical individual users.
The US Supreme Court let the Federal Communications Commission ease limits on the ownership of local television and radio stations, siding with the broadcast industry and Trump-era regulators in a long-running fight. The Justices unanimously overturned an appeals court ruling that had required the FCC to first study the potential impact on female and minority ownership in the media industry. Republicans and the broadcast industry have been seeking to relax the ownership limits for decades, saying the restrictions are badly outdated.
AT&T Wireless announced it will be suspending its Sponsored Data program nationwide. Under this program, AT&T Wireless exempts AT&T’s video services like DirectTV Now from the data caps of its wireless Internet customers who subscribe to those services. This practice is known as “zero-rating.” All other data on the internet, including from competing video services, counts against users’ caps.
The Obama-era Federal Trade Commission spent 19 months investigating Google over allegations that it violated antitrust laws by favoring its own products over rivals’ in search results. The agency ultimately voted against taking action, saying changes Google made to its search algorithm gave consumers better results and therefore didn’t unfairly harm competitors. That conclusion underplays what the FTC’s staff found during the probe.
What might happen on the local level in California if its net neutrality law indeed becomes enforceable? Matt Wood, vice president of policy and general counsel for Free Press, said California’s law would “give a forum” to local complaints, which may or may not translate to violations.
How do we ensure that broadband service providers enable access to all lawful content and applications regardless of the source, and without favoring or blocking particular products or websites? This now-decades-long debate added a new chapter this week when Judge John Mendez of the U.S.
A Q&A with New York Times reporter Cecilia Kang. Why does the net neutrality fight matter? Many Americans have only one or possibly two options for home internet providers. Those companies can in theory decide whether we can view Netflix or YouTube crystal clear or if we see the pinwheel of death as those sites stutter.
In 2017, the broadband industry appeared to win its battle against net neutrality. Under the Trump administration, the US Federal Communications Commission rolled back rules that barred internet service providers from blocking or slowing down traffic to certain websites or charging some sites a fee for preferential treatment. Net neutrality was, effectively, dead. But the regulatory change turned out to be a Pyrrhic victory for telecom companies.