Upcoming policy issue
With the Biden administration on the cusp of passing the infrastructure bill with $65 billion in broadband funding, here are a few things we know about where Federal Communications Commission nominee Gigi Sohn [Senior Fellow and Public Advocate at the Benton Institute for Broadband & Society] stands on crucial broadband issues:
When senators return to Washington next week, one of the most pressing issues they’ll face is passing the National Defense Authorization Act, which has been pushed back much further than usual. Lawmakers have filed nearly 700 amendments to the annual defense bill, including several related to tech and telecom. Politico has compiled a list of major Democrat, Republican, and bipartisan amendments in these areas.
The Senate is only scheduled to be in three weeks for the rest of 2021, with a recess set to start on December 10. There’s almost no chance that schedule holds at this point, with the Democratic majority facing a to-do list more daunting than a Black Friday sales rush. Congress has to fund the government past December 3, pass a massive defense policy bill, finish out a $1.75 trillion party-line social spending bill and potentially maneuver around a US credit default.
As Democrats attempt to shrink their social spending plan by hundreds of billions of dollars in order to reach consensus between moderates and progressives, the fate of several of its tech provisions hangs in the balance. House Democrats included a boatload of technology and telecommunications cash in the original $3.5 trillion version of their spending package, which the party is planning to pass without GOP support under a process called reconciliation.
In meetings with Federal Communications Commission staff, NTCA–The Rural Broadband Association reiterated its support for ensuring that lowincome consumers have affordable access to the voice service they need and therefore urged the Commission to retain the Lifeline subsidy for stand-alone voice service. Voice service remains critical for many low-income and older individuals who rely on such service as an affordable method of contacting health care providers, government agencies, and public safety. NTCA further stressed the urgent need for FCC action on the National Association of State U
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and the North Carolina Department of Justice are weighing in on a court case that they say uses Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act — the law shielding the tech industry from liability for what users post — to skirt around other laws. Consumers filed a lawsuit over inaccurate information on publicdata.com, a website that gathers public information to compile and sell background check reports and is operated by a company called Source for Public Data.
Sen Mike Lee (R-UT), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary antitrust panel, is nowhere to be found on the list of senators sponsoring the bipartisan antitrust bill slated to be introduced next week. The effort, led by Senate Judiciary antitrust Chair Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Senate Judiciary ranking member Chuck Grassley (R-IA), is the latest move in Congress’ efforts to rein in the tech giants.
Sens Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Chairwoman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on Competition Policy, Antitrust, and Consumer Rights, and Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Ranking Member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, announced that they will introduce bipartisan legislation to restore competition online by establishing commonsense rules of the road for dominant digital platforms to prevent them from abusing their market power to harm competition, online businesses, and consumers. The American Innovation and Choice Online Act will:
The Federal Communications Commission is committing more than $1.1 billion as part of its $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund program, aimed at boosting broadband access for students, school staff, and library patrons. The agency has already committed nearly $2.4 billion to date. The FCC has processed nearly 60% of the applications it received for emergency connectivity funding during an application window that closed in August, surpassing an internal goal to process 50% within two months.
The controversy over what Facebook has said about social and emotional hazards stemming from its products could become a test of the Securities and Exchange Commission's growing interest in policing corporate risks that hurt reputations more than profits.