A committee that advises the Federal Communications Commission on consumer-related matters now includes a representative of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which lobbies against municipal broadband, net neutrality, and other consumer protection measures. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced his Consumer Advisory Committee's new makeup on April 10. One new member is Jonathon Hauenschild, director of ALEC's Task Force on Communications and Technology.
An Ilinois bill that sought to empower average people to file lawsuits against tech companies for recording them without their knowledge via microphone-enabled devices was defanged this week after lobbying from trade associations representing Silicon Valley giants. On April 10, the Illinois State Senate passed the Keep Internet Devices Safe Act, a bill that would ban manufacturers of devices that can record audio from doing so remotely without disclosing it to the customer.
Google, a shrewd Washington player, has shifted into overdrive and adapted its approach as calls to regulate Big Tech have grown louder. A person familiar with Google’s strategy for influencing public debate says the company generally doesn’t seek to change experts’ thinking but, rather, to underwrite their time and encourage them to be more vocal on issues important to Google. Google may pre-vet op-eds and ask that certain statements be made stronger or weaker, which seems small but ends up having a big impact, the person said.
INCOMPAS CEO Chip Pickering announced that former FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn would be leading a new campaign on behalf of the trade association to focus on boosting technology innovation and inclusion in America’s heartland.
Senate Commerce Committee Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) is slated to participate in a fundraiser hosted by the telecommunications industry on Feb. 26 — the evening before the panel holds the hearing on privacy issues that are a point of contention between telecom and internet companies. The political action committees for AT&T and US Telecom are listed as hosts. Entry starts at $1,500 for individual guests, $2,500 to attend as a sponsor and $5,000 to co-host.
Sprint is withdrawing from tech and telecom trade group Incompas, of which Sprint is a founding member after Incompas publicly came out against the company’s proposed merger with T-Mobile. “Given this fundamental shift toward protecting incumbents from a new competitive threat, Sprint can no longer be a member of this organization,” said Sprint’s Charles McKee, who also resigned from Incompas’ board of directors as part of the move.
A landmark law adopted in California in 2018 to rein in the data-collection practices of Facebook, Google and other tech giants has touched off a lobbying blitz that could water it down, potentially undermining new protections that might apply to Internet users across the country. The fight between regulation-wary businesses and privacy watchdogs centers on CA's first-in-the-nation online privacy rules, known as the California Consumer Privacy Act.
At a time of dysfunction in Washington, there’s at least one thing in this town that still runs like butter: The revolving door. Barely eight months after stepping down from the Federal Communications Commission, Mignon Clyburn has announced T-Mobile is paying her for advice on the company’s $26 billion merger with Sprint. The former commissioner won’t be lobbying for the deal, nor will she be visiting her old colleagues at the FCC.
Earlier in Jan it was reported how T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint were selling cell phone users’ location data that ultimately ended up in the hands of bounty hunters and people unauthorized to handle it. That data trickled down from the telecommunications giants through a complex network of middlemen and data brokers. One of those third parties was Zumigo, a company that gets location data access directly from the telecom companies and then sells it for a profit.
For several years it has made sense, in some quarters, to lump together the tech giants — chiefly Google, Facebook, Apple, and Amazon, sometimes also including Netflix or Microsoft. But talking about "big tech" is beginning to offer diminishing returns. Many of these companies banded together in 2012 for lobbying purposes as the Internet Association, and they have long shared a set of common regulatory interests in managing their platforms and services with little government oversight. But as privacy regulation of some kind looks more inevitable, their interests are more likely to diverge.