FCC Chairman rolls over for Trump – will attack Facebook and Twitter

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai is backing President Donald Trump’s proposal to limit legal protections for social media websites that block or modify content posted by users. Pai’s views on the matter were unknown until…he issued a statement saying that he will open a rule-making process to clarify that, despite the First Amendment, social media companies do not have “special immunity” for their content-moderation decisions

…(A) Trump administration’s petition asked the FCC to limit social media companies’ legal protections under Section 230 by changing the definition of “information content provider.” The requested change would define the term more broadly to include platforms that make “editorial decisions that modify or alter content.” That could convert Facebook and Twitter from “interactive computer services” to “information content providers,” limiting their legal protections when they block or screen content…

Both FCC Democrats today criticized Pai’s announcement. “The timing of this effort is absurd. The FCC has no business being the president’s speech police,” Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel said.

Commissioner Geoffrey Starks said, “We’re in the midst of an election. The president’s executive order on Section 230 was politically motivated and legally unsound. The FCC shouldn’t do the president’s bidding here.”…

In addition to being opposed by the FCC’s Democratic minority, Trump’s petition did not even have full support from the FCC’s Republican majority. Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly stated that the FCC must uphold First Amendment speech protections “that apply to corporate entities, especially when they engage in editorial decision making.”

After O’Rielly’s comments, Trump took the unusual step of pulling O’Rielly’s nomination to another FCC term…

Unusual for someone intended to represent the people of this nation broadly instead of just the nutballs ranging from QAnon to your friendly neighborhood fascists.

FCC underestimates number of folks with no access to broadband by 50%

The FCC’s Broadband Deployment Report states that 21.3 million Americans, or 6.5 percent of the population, lack access to broadband internet, including wired and fixed wireless connections. This figure relies upon semi-annual self-reporting by internet service providers using the FCC-mandated “Form 477.”

However, there is a widely acknowledged flaw with Form 477 reporting: if an ISP offers service to at least one household in a census block, then the FCC counts the entire census block as covered by that provider. BroadbandNow Research examined the magnitude of this flaw by manually checking internet availability using FCC data as the source of truth for randomly selected addresses.

Based on our research, we estimate that 42 million Americans do not have access to wired or fixed wireless broadband.

RTFA to understand the details. Based on my reading, the FCC is incompetent or simply doesn’t care about truthful reporting.

Or both.

Trump supporters follow his model…lie, cheat and steal!


Getty/Chip Somodevilla

❝ In May 2017, dozens of Americans came forward with claims that their identities had been used, without their consent, in a campaign to inundate the Federal Communications Commission with public comments critical of the Obama-era policy. Some told reporters that they’d never heard of net neutrality. Twenty seven signed an open letter to FCC Chairman Ajit Pai demanding a response. A year on, each of their names and addresses are still displayed on the federal agency’s website, right above, as the letter puts it, “a political statement that we did not sign onto.”

❝ What was most curious, however, is that each of these people had supposedly submitted the very same comment; a veritable word salad of telecom industry talking points. In particular, the comment was a rebuke of the Obama administration’s exercise of “unprecedented regulatory power” in pursuit of net neutrality, a policy which it accused of “smothering innovation, damaging the American economy, and obstructing job creation…”

❝ Last week, the GSA turned over the API logs in response to a records request from a reporter who had sued it and the FCC to pry them loose…

On review, they are the same records that the FCC refused to provide the New York attorney general’s office in December 2017, while claiming the state’s chief legal officer had no authority “to investigate a federal agency’s rulemaking process,” or otherwise compel the production of any materials…

RTFA. It is worth a detailed careful read. The interplay between conservative publishers, lobbyists, Roger Stone, a magic batch of 9+ million signatures appearing – from folks who never signed on to opposing Net Neutrality.

We don’t need foreign governments to be convinced of illicit political campaigns hacking their way through our diminished democracy. Conservative creeps with no shortage of dollar signs are working hard as they can to expand their abuse of democracy and responsible governance.

50% of the time, Americans won’t answer their cellphones

…for good reason.

❝ A big takeaway from a report released Tuesday by Hiya, a Seattle-based spam-monitoring service that analyzed activity from 450,000 users of its app to determine the scope of unwanted robo-calling — and how phone users react when they receive an automated call.

Consistent with other analyses, Hiya’s report found that the number of robo-calls is on the rise. Roughly 26.3 billion robo-calls were placed to U.S. phone numbers last year, Hiya said, up from 18 billion in 2017. One report last year projected that as many as half of all cellphone calls in 2019 could be spam.

❝ This month, T-Mobile said it would soon begin activating a technical protocol known as SHAKEN/STIR, a type of caller authentication that follows the same principles as website encryption. Other carriers including AT&T, Verizon and Sprint have also committed to implementing the feature. Endorsed by the FCC, the new protocol is part of an industry-wide push to limit the effects of caller-ID spoofing, which is when a spammer poses as a caller from a nearby area code in an effort to trick recipients into picking up the phone.

So, we can hope.

[1] I doubt the Feds are doing a fraction of what they might to stop spam phone calls. What’s their incentive? They don’t care a rat’s ass about consumers to begin with. Except keep us the primary source of tax dollars.

[2] Yup. I never answer my cellphone unless I see an ID from someone I care to talk to! More likely, I’ll wait for a recorded message that verifies who is calling.

FCC Chair killed rules which would have helped Hurricane victims


Ajit Pai listening to Trump

❝ The Federal Communications Commission chairman slammed wireless carriers…for failing to quickly restore phone service in Florida after Hurricane Michael, calling the delay “completely unacceptable.”

But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai’s statement ignored his agency’s deregulatory blitz that left consumers without protections designed to ensure restoration of service after disasters, according to longtime telecom attorney and consumer advocate Harold Feld.

The Obama-era FCC wrote new regulations to protect consumers after Verizon tried to avoid rebuilding wireline phone infrastructure in Fire Island, New York, after Hurricane Sandy hit the area in October 2012. But Pai repealed those rules, claiming that they prevented carriers from upgrading old copper networks to fiber. Pai’s repeal order makes zero mentions of Fire Island and makes reference to Verizon’s response to Hurricane Sandy only once, in a footnote.

Part of the function of good journalism is exposing corrupt practices – whether justified by ignorance or just plain stupid ideology. The Republican Party specializes in both and more – which is how we got to this footdragging on aid for hurricane victims’ communications.

Cities joining to offer quality, affordable broadband — pissing off today’s FCC!

❝ This is a story that defies two strongly held beliefs. The first—embraced fervently by today’s FCC — is that the private marketplace is delivering world-class internet access infrastructure at low prices to all Americans, particularly in urban areas. The second is that cities are so busy competing that they are incapable of cooperating with one another, particularly when they have little in common save proximity.

❝ These two beliefs aren’t necessarily true. Right now, the 16 very different cities that make up the South Bay region of Southern California have gotten fed up with their internet access situation: They’re paying too much for too little. So they are working together to collectively lower the amounts they pay for city communications by at least a third. It’s the first step along a path that, ultimately, will bring far cheaper internet access services to the 1.1 million people who live in the region.

Maybe cities can cooperate and save money without compromising their local autonomy. At this same moment, though, the FCC is on a march to smother local authority by blocking states from regulating any aspect of broadband service, supporting states that have raised barriers to municipal networks, deregulating pricing for lines running between cities, and removing local control over rights-of-way that could be used to bring cheaper access into town…the FCC would like to bar other regions from acting in just this kind of sensible way.

The FCC has never been allowed much freedom to aid advocates of modern tech. Overlap of interests doesn’t signify choice. With a reactionary creep in the White House, options narrowed a lot more. Just another good reason to fight hard enough to elect alternatives that are competent technically, moderate or better, politically…and keep on trying for better.

Trump’s flunky killed Net Neutrality. That’s not enough to satisfy the Fake President

The Trump administration has asked the US Supreme Court to vacate the 2016 court ruling that upheld the Obama-era net neutrality rules in a strategy that could help uphold the Federal Communications Commission’s recent repeal of those rules.

The rules themselves are no longer on the books, having been repealed by the FCC under Chairman Ajit Pai, Trump’s pick to lead the commission. But broadband industry lobby groups appealed to the US Supreme Court in September 2017 anyway, asking the nation’s highest court to rule that the Obama-era FCC exceeded its authority when it reclassified Internet providers in order to impose stricter regulations…

“The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers…” Shakespeare, Henry VI, Part 2

Want to complain about a telecom company? – Republicans rule that, first, you fork over $225

❝ The Federal Communications Commission today voted 3-1 to stop reviewing informal consumer complaints about telecom companies. To get an FCC review of a company’s bad behavior, a consumer will have to file a formal complaint—which requires a payment of $225 to the FCC.

Even if an ISP fails to respond to a customer’s informal complaint, the FCC would not review the complaint until after a consumer pays $225 and goes through the formal complaint process…

❝ But the decision was panned by FCC Commissioner Jessica Rosenworcel, the commission’s only Democrat, who said the FCC has reviewed informal complaints in the past.

This is bonkers,” she said at today’s meeting. “No one should be asked to pay $225 for this agency to do its job. No one should see this agency close its doors to everyday consumers looking for assistance in a marketplace that can be bewildering to navigate. There are so many people who think Washington is not listening to them and that the rules at agencies like this one are rigged against them—and today’s decision only proves that point.”

It should only take the average Trump-chump a decade or so to realize they were played by a sleazy hustler. Everything he said he was out to change – mostly he has made worse, more profitable for his fellow rip-off artists, more difficult for ordinary citizens.

But, hey, there still are people who miss Nixon.

One scumbag responsible for 96 million robocalls

❝ Have you ever gotten a phone call from a number that looked very similar to your own, only to pick up and realize it’s a robocall trying to sell you something?

If you have, you’re not alone. This week, the Federal Communications Commission slapped its largest fines ever on a Florida man it says is responsible for more than 96 million of those dreaded robocalls.

❝ Adrian Abramovich, the Miami man behind the scheme, was ordered to pay a $120 million fine this week as punishment for scamming millions of people with more than 96 million robocalls over a three-month period in 2016.

❝ While robocalls themselves aren’t illegal, it is illegal to “spoof” caller ID information in the name of defrauding people, which is exactly what the FCC says Abramovich did. He spoofed area codes as well as the first three digits of phone numbers in order to disguise the calls as legitimate calls from local numbers.

If you can’t do the time or pay the fine – than don’t commit the crime!

Trump and his Obedient Republicans have ordered an end to Net Neutrality in June

❝ Landmark U.S. “net neutrality” rules will expire on June 11, and new regulations handing providers broad new power over how consumers can access the internet will take effect…

The FCC in December repealed the Obama-era open-internet rules set in 2015, which bars providers from blocking or slowing down access to content or charging consumers more for certain content.

❝ The prior rules were intended to ensure a free and open internet, give consumers equal access to web content and bar broadband service providers from favoring their own material or others.

Trump’s chumps don’t care about transparency or equal access. They’re perfectly willing to obey daddy’s new rules as long as he promises to continue crackdowns on furriners and folks who ain’t white enough.

Meanwhile, like most of Trump’s crimes, this is essentially an economic piece of crap designed to keep life free and easy for folks with lots of spare money – and screw the rest of us. Corporate access being the highest priority.