Government

FCC Chairman: a Former Cable Lobbyist Who Helped Kill the Comcast Merger 61

Posted by Soulskill
from the judging-books-by-covers dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After Friday's news that the Comcast/TWC merger is dead, the Washington Post points out an interesting fact: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, who was instrumental in throwing up roadblocks for the deal, used to be a lobbyist for the cable and wireless industry. "Those who predicted Wheeler would favor industry interests 'misunderstood him from the beginning — the notion that because he had represented various industries, he was suddenly in their pocket never made any sense,' said one industry lawyer, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he represents clients before the FCC." The "revolving door" between government and industry is often blamed for many of the problems regulating corporations. We were worried about it ourselves when Wheeler was nominated for his current job. I guess this goes to show that it depends more on the person than on their previous job.
Businesses

Comcast Officially Gives Up On TWC Merger 112

Posted by Soulskill
from the keeping-them-small-enough-to-govern dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Confirming speculation from yesterday, Comcast announced this morning that its attempt to merge with Time Warner Cable has been terminated. The announcement was very brief, but indicated that regulatory pressure was the reason they killed the deal. CEO Brian Roberts said, "Today, we move on. Of course, we would have liked to bring our great products to new cities, but we structured this deal so that if the government didn't agree, we could walk away." The Washington Post adds, "The move by regulators to throw up roadblocks shows that the government has grown concerned about massive media conglomerates bigfooting rivals that are finding success by streaming content over the Internet, analysts said. And after years of approving a wave of mergers in the industry — including that of Comcast and NBC Universal in 2011 — federal officials are taking a new tone, they said."
Government

Bloomberg Report Suggests Comcast & Time Warner Merger Dead 99

Posted by timothy
from the it's-very-ill dept.
andyring writes: According to Bloomberg News, the Time Warner/Comcast merger of raw evil is dead. Comcast plans as early as tomorrow to withdraw the merger proposal, "after regulators decided that the deal wouldn't help consumers, making approval unlikely" according to the story. If so, that means regulators won't have the chance to kill it themselves.
Businesses

Comcast and TWC Will Negotiate With Officials To Save Their Merger 101

Posted by samzenpus
from the lets-talk-about-this dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news about Comcast and Time Warner Cable's attempt to keep their proposed merger alive. "Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable Inc. are slated to sit down for the first time on Wednesday with Justice Department officials to discuss potential remedies in hopes of keeping their $45.2 billion merger on track, according to people familiar with the matter. The parties haven't met face-to-face to hash out possible concessions in the more than 14 months since the deal was announced. Staffers at both the Justice Department and the Federal Communications Commission remain concerned a combined company would wield too much power in the broadband Internet market and give it unfair competitive leverage against TV channel owners and new market entrants that offer video programming online, said people with knowledge of the review."
The Internet

Republicans Introduce a Bill To Overturn Net Neutrality 441

Posted by Soulskill
from the not-neutrality dept.
New submitter grimmjeeper writes: IDG News reports, "A group of Republican lawmakers has introduced a bill that would invalidate the U.S. Federal Communications Commission's recently passed net neutrality rules. The legislation (PDF), introduced by Representative Doug Collins, a Georgia Republican, is called a resolution of disapproval, a move that allows Congress to review new federal regulations from government agencies, using an expedited legislative process."

This move should come as little surprise to anyone. While the main battle in getting net neutrality has been won, the war is far from over.
The legislation was only proposed now because the FCC's net neutrality rules were just published in the Federal Register today. In addition to the legislation, a new lawsuit was filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit by USTelecom, a trade group representing ISPs.
United States

Reason: How To Break the Internet (in a Bad Way) 489

Posted by timothy
from the but-the-council-of-wise-men-have-decreed dept.
Widespread public sentiment favors the FCC's move to impose rules intended to establish "net neutrality"; an anonymous reader writes with a skeptical viewpoint: "No decent person," write Geoffrey Manne and Ben Sperry in a special issue of Reason, "should be *for* net neutrality." Across the board, the authors write, letting the FCC dictate ISP business practices will result in everything they say they're trying to avoid. For instance, one of the best ways to route around a big firm's brand recognition is to buy special treatment in the form of promotions, product placement and the like (payola, after all, is how rock and roll circumvented major label contempt for the genre). That will almost certainly be forbidden under the FCC's version of neutrality.
Crime

AT&T Call Centers Sold Mobile Customer Information To Criminals 92

Posted by samzenpus
from the was-that-wrong? dept.
itwbennett writes Employees at three call centers in Mexico, Colombia and the Philippines sold hundreds of thousands of AT&T customer records, including names and Social Security numbers, to criminals who attempted to use the customer information to unlock stolen mobile phones, the U.S. Federal Communications Commission said. AT&T has agreed to pay a $25 million civil penalty, which is the largest related to a data breach and customer privacy in the FCC's history.
The Internet

Why Is the Internet Association Rewarding a Pro-NSA Net-Neutrality Opponent? 157

Posted by samzenpus
from the keep-your-enemies-closer dept.
First time accepted submitter erier2003 writes The decision to give a major award to House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy is curious given McCarthy's many questionable stances on Internet-freedom issues. For one thing, the California congressman is an avowed opponent of net neutrality. In May 2014, as the Federal Communications Commission debated new net neutrality rules, McCarthy—then the House Majority Whip, the chamber's third-highest-ranking member—signed a House GOP letter to the FCC warning that Title II regulation represented "a counterproductive effort to even further regulate the Internet."
Government

FCC Chairman: Net Rules Will Withstand Court Challenge 84

Posted by samzenpus
from the here-to-stay dept.
An anonymous reader writes with this story about FCC chairman Tom Wheeler's confidence that the net neutrality rules the agency passed last month will stand up to upcoming challenges in court."Now that the FCC is the subject of several lawsuits, and its leader, Chairman Tom Wheeler, was dragged in front of Congress repeatedly to answer the same battery of inanity, it's worth checking in to see how the agency is feeling. Is it confident that its recent vote to reclassify broadband under Title II of the Telecommunications Act will hold? Yes, unsurprisingly. Recently, Wheeler gave a speech at Ohio State University, laying out his larger philosophy regarding the open Internet. His second to last paragraph is worth reading: "One final prediction: the FCC's new rules will be upheld by the courts. The DC Circuit sent the previous Open Internet Order back to us and basically said, 'You're trying to impose common carrier-like regulation without stepping up and saying, "these are common carriers.'" We have addressed that issue, which is the underlying issue in all of the debates we've had so far. That gives me great confidence going forward that we will prevail.""
The Courts

First Lawsuits Challenging FCC's New Net Neutrality Rules Arrive 318

Posted by Soulskill
from the early-bird-gets-to-throttle-the-worm's-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A small ISP based in Texas and an industry trade group have become the first to file lawsuits challenging the FCC's recent net neutrality rules. The trade group, USTelecom, argues that the regulations are not "legally sustainable." Alamo Broadband claims it is facing "onerous requirements" by operating under Title II of the Communications Act. Such legal challenges were expected, and are doubtless the first of many — but few expected them to arrive so soon. While some of the new rules were considered "final" once the FCC released them on March 12, others don't go into effect until they're officially published in the Federal Register, which hasn't happened yet.
Government

ISPs Worry About FCC's 'Future Conduct' Policing 130

Posted by timothy
from the now-lookie-hyeah-boah dept.
jfruh (300774) writes "In the wake of the FCC passing net neutrality rules, the federal agency now has the authority to keep an eye on ISPs 'future conduct,' to prevent them from even starting to implement traffic-shaping plans that would violate net neutrality. Naturally, this has a lot of ISPs feeling nervous." From the article: The net neutrality rules, beginning on page 106, outline a process for staff to give advisory opinions to broadband providers who want to run a proposed business model past the agency before rolling it out. But those advisory opinions won’t have the weight of an official commission decision. The FCC’s Enforcement Bureau will be able to reconsider, rescind or revoke those advisory opinions, and the commission itself will be able to overrule them, according to the order. “It’s unclear what you’re supposed to do when you have a new innovation or a new service,” the telecom lobbyist said. “There’s just a lot of ambiguity.” Even the Electronic Frontier Foundation, one of the most vocal proponents of strong net neutrality rules, urged the commission to jettison its future conduct standard.
Communications

Feds Fine Verizon $3.4 Million Over 911 Service Outage Issues 65

Posted by timothy
from the can't-get-through-to-you dept.
itwbennett writes The U.S. Federal Communications Commission has fined Verizon $3.4 million over its failure to notify police and fire departments during a 911 service outage last year. Under the commission's rules, Verizon and other carriers were required to notify emergency call centers of a six-hour outage that occurred in April. The outage involved multiple carriers and affected over 11 million people in seven states.
Google

Google's Solar-Drone Internet Tests About To Take Off 21

Posted by samzenpus
from the sky-web dept.
itwbennett writes Titan Aerospace, the drone-maker acquired last year by Google to help realize the company's ambitious plans to provide Internet access to remote areas via solar-powered drones, recently applied for and received two licenses from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to run tests over the next six months. The licenses, which are valid from March 8 until September 5, don’t give away much because Google has asked the FCC to keep many of the details confidential for commercial reasons, but they reveal the tests will take place inside a 1,345 square kilometer (520 square mile) area to the east of Albuquerque. The area includes the town of Moriarty, where Titan Aerospace is headquartered and conducts its research and development work.
United States

FCC Posts Its 400-Page Net Neutrality Order 347

Posted by timothy
from the meet-the-new-boss dept.
jriding sends word that the FCC has released new rules outlining its recently officialized role as internet regulator. Simply titled "Open Internet FCC-15-24A1," the order runs 400 pages. The actual text of the new rules is only 305 words long. [FCC head Tom] Wheeler said reclassifying broadband as an utility gives the FCC its best shot at withstanding legal challenges. The courts have twice tossed out earlier rules aimed at protecting Internet openness. The FCC chairman has said repeatedly the agency does not intend to set rates or add new taxes to broadband bills. More than 100 pages of the 400-page document released Thursday explain that forbearance. AT&T had hinted it would file a lawsuit once the new rules become public. The company's chief lobbyist, Jim Cicconi, didn't indicate Thursday when or even if AT&T would sue — only that the battle is far from over. "Unfortunately, the order released today begins a period of uncertainty that will damage broadband investment in the United States," Cicconi said. "Ultimately, though, we are confident the issue will be resolved by bipartisan action by Congress or a future FCC, or by the courts."
The Internet

SpaceX Worried Fake Competitors Could Disrupt Its Space Internet Plan 115

Posted by Soulskill
from the give-us-all-the-spectrum dept.
Jason Koebler writes: The biggest impediment to SpaceX's plan to create a worldwide, satellite broadband network might not be the sheer technological difficulty of putting 4,000 satellites into space. Instead, outdated international and domestic regulations on satellite communications could stand in the way, according to a new Federal Communications Commission filing by the company. The company's attorneys wrote that the FCC might make it too easy for competitors to reserve communications bandwidth that they will never use. "Spectrum warehousing can be extremely detrimental and unprepared, highly speculative, or disingenuous applicants must be prevented from pursuing 'paper satellites' (or 'paper constellations'), which can unjustly obstruct and delay qualified applicants from deploying their systems."
Republicans

House Republicans Roll Out Legislation To Overturn New Net Neutrality Rules 550

Posted by Soulskill
from the hooray-politics dept.
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. Representative Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and 31 Republican co-sponsors have submitted the Internet Freedom Act (PDF) for consideration in the House. The bill would roll back the recent net neutrality rules made by the FCC. The bill says the rules "shall have no force or effect, and the Commission may not reissue such rule in substantially the same form, or issue a new rule that is substantially the same as such rule, unless the reissued or new rule is specifically authorized by a law enacted after the date of the enactment of this Act." Blackburn claims the FCC's rules will "stifle innovation" and "restrict freedom." The article points out that Blackburn's campaign and leadership PAC has received substantial donations. from Comcast, AT&T, and Verizon.
Government

Feds Admit Stingray Can Disrupt Bystanders' Communications 194

Posted by samzenpus
from the you're-breaking-up dept.
linuxwrangler writes The government has fought hard to keep details about use and effects of the controversial Stingray device secret. But this Wired article points to recently released documents in which the government admits that the device can cause collateral damage to other network users. The controversy has heated to the point that Florida senator Bill Nelson has made statements that such devices will inevitably force lawmakers to come up with new ways to protect privacy — a comment that is remarkable considering that the Stingray is produced by Harris Corporation which is headquartered in Nelson's home state.
The Internet

As Big As Net Neutrality? FCC Kills State-Imposed Internet Monopolies 234

Posted by Soulskill
from the now-hurry-up-and-deploy-something,-my-city dept.
tedlistens writes: On Thursday, before it voted in favor of "net neutrality," the Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 to override state laws in Tennessee and North Carolina that have barred local governments and public utilities from offering broadband outside the areas where they have traditionally sold electricity. Christopher Mitchell of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance said the move was as important for internet competition as net neutrality: "Preventing big Internet Service Providers from unfairly discriminating against content online is a victory, but allowing communities to be the owners and stewards of their own broadband networks is a watershed moment that will serve as a check against the worst abuses of the cable monopoly for decades to come." The laws, like those in over a dozen other states, are often created under pressure from large private Internet providers like Comcast and Verizon, who consequently control monopolies or duopolies over high-speed internet in these places.
Verizon

Verizon Posts Message In Morse Code To Mock FCC's Net Neutrality Ruling 391

Posted by Soulskill
from the being-evil-in-humorous-ways dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Chris Matyszczyk reports at Cnet that Verizon has posted a message to the FCC titled: FCC's 'Throwback Thursday' Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet" written in Morse code. The first line of the release dated February 26, 1934 in old typewriter font (PDF) reads: "Today (Feb.26) the Federal Communications Commission approved an order urged by President Obama that imposes rules on broadband Internet services that were written in the era of the steam locomotive and the telegraph." The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines in favor of new Internet service rules that prohibit blocking, slowing or prioritizing traffic. The rules, which have not yet been released, are opposed by cable and telephone companies that fear it will curb Internet growth and stifle payback on network investment. "It isn't a surprise that Verizon is a touch against Thursday's order. In 2012, it insisted that the very idea of Net neutrality squished its First and Fifth Amendment right," writes Matyszczyk. "I wonder, though, who will be attracted by this open mockery. Might this be a sign that Verizon doesn't think the fight is over at all?"
The Internet

FCC Approves Net Neutrality Rules 631

Posted by Soulskill
from the done-and-done dept.
muggs sends word that the U.S. Federal Communications Commission has voted 3-2 to approve an expansion of their ability to regulate ISPs by treating them as a public utility. Under the rules, it will be illegal for companies such as Verizon or Cox Communications to slow down streaming videos, games and other online content traveling over their networks. They also will be prohibited from establishing "fast lanes" that speed up access to Web sites that pay an extra fee. And in an unprecedented move, the FCC could apply the rules to wireless carriers such as T-Mobile and Sprint -- a nod to the rapid rise of smartphones and the mobile Internet. ... The FCC opted to regulate the industry with the most aggressive rules possible: Title II of the Communications Act, which was written to regulate phone companies. The rules waive a number of provisions in the act, including parts of the law that empower the FCC to set retail prices — something Internet providers feared above all. However, the rules gives the FCC a variety of new powers, including the ability to: enforce consumer privacy rules; extract money from Internet providers to help subsidize services for rural Americans, educators and the poor; and make sure services such as Google Fiber can build new broadband pipes more easily.