Earlier this month we examined how partisan division at the Federal Communications Commission impedes progress towards closing the digital divide. Now, we review another big telecom policy story from 2018: the democratic harms of “Big Tech”. In 2018, we got a better, but more disturbing, understanding of the size and influence of large technology companies (Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft), and particularly how social media platforms affect our democratic discourse and elections.
On Nov 14, the New York Times detailed Facebook’s multi-pronged campaign to “delay, deny and deflect” efforts to hold the company accountable. This is far from the first time we’ve read disturbing accounts of Facebook’s unethical behavior, but this week the Times peeled back the curtain on the company’s crisis management techniques, public relations tactics, efforts to influence lawmakers, and aggressive lobbying. The peak at these practices helps explain why the social media giant has been so successful at avoiding meaningful regulation.
Randall L. Stephenson, AT&T’s chief executive, said in a staffwide memo that the company had made a “big mistake” by hiring President Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen.
[Commentary] The big Internet service provider gate-keepers may have bought the silence of Congress, but they cannot buy the silence of the people. We know there is overwhelming popular support for an open internet with strong net neutrality rules. But we have to demonstrate this support and the power behind it. We must make our voices heard. Contacting Congress now on the CRA is vital—your Senators, of course, but your House members, too. Tell them your vote in the next election depends on their vote now to restore net neutrality.
In April 2017, the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Ajit Pai, led the charge for his agency to approve rules allowing television broadcasters to greatly increase the number of stations they own.
The Broadband Forum is striving to better inform broadband providers of the work it’s doing in technical standards, with the help of the Fiber Broadband Association (FBA). In July, the Broadband Forum and FBA partnered to focus on developing and educating the broadband industry on best practices.
The world's biggest streaming companies are coming together to launch the industry's first coalition, the Streaming Innovation Alliance (SIA). The streaming industry has faced few regulatory threats over the past decade, but that's changing as more television consumption moves to digital. The new group is led by two former policymakers acting as senior advisers: former Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) and former Democratic Federal Communications Commission Acting Chair Mignon Clyburn [a member of the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society Board of Directors].
A House Commerce Committee hearing centered on the future of rural broadband funding had industry leaders testifying on the improvements they deem necessary for the $42.5 billion Broadband Equity, Access, and Deployment (BEAD) program to be effective. US Telecom CEO Jonathan Spalter said in addition to financial backing, Congress can take non-funding actions to expedite and improve programs for rural broadband, and spoke against BEAD’s letter of credit requirement, which he contended could “actually reduce the amount of broadband deployed in the next few years using private capital.” Additi
There are a large number of wireless and wired telecommunications trade associations; so many that it can be hard to keep track. Fierce Telecom created this list of the most well-known trade groups in the industry.
The National Consumer Law Center and the United Church of Christ Media Justice Ministry produced a new State Digital Justice Advocacy Toolkit that contains resources to help frontline groups that are working to provide broadband and communication assistance to incarcerated people, people with disabilities, low-income households, veterans, aging and rural populations, people facing language barriers, members of a racial or ethnic minority, and other underserved groups. The State Digi