It is Time to take the FCC to Court

Huffington Post

Since the beginning of 2017, the FCC has been a path of destruction with the overarching theme to erase all laws, regulations and consumer protections and to let a few very large monopolies/duopolies (or oligopoly)—Verizon, AT&T, Centurylink, and the cable companies—do what they want at your expense.

And this FCC can follow this path because there are only three current commissioners (out of a full complement of five), where the FCC Chairman, Ajit Pai, a former Verizon attorney, controls the agenda with the second Republican Commissioner, Michael O’Rielly. This means that the only Democrat, Mignon Clyburn, (who has always taken a pro-consumer position), will lose every vote, but rather it means that the American Public loses as well.

Much of the FCC’s destructive path is well known to most:

  • Block Privacy Rules: The FCC (with Congress) has blocked the implementation of the previous FCC administration’s new privacy rules from going forward. Blocking this new rule allows the phone and cable companies to sell the customer’s information to advertisers and give their own affiliate companies the ability to spy and track customers’ purchases, friends, contacts, etc., on multiple devices.
  • Erasing the Net Neutrality rules is next and there will be a flurry of activities to stop the new FCC’s plans to neuter customer protections.

But there are other areas that have gotten little or no attention and they are at the core of your communications.

  • Erase Basic Accounting Rules: The very first official FCC meeting was used to erase some of the basic accounting rules,

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BDS Deregulation Foes: FCC’s Plan Raises Legal Issues

Broadcasting & Cable, April 18th, 2017

Groups working hard to block or delay the proposed FCC deregulation of broadband business data services (BDS) teamed up for a conference call with reporters Tuesday as the clock wound down on the planned April 20 vote, saying the proposal was dangerous, anti-consumer, and susceptible to court challenge for being arbitrary and contrary to the FCC’s charter on guaranteeing reasonable rates.

On that call were representatives of Public Knowledge, Consumer Federation of America, INCOMPAS, and the Open Technology Institute, who want the FCC to delay the vote so it can supply some of the economic expertise the chairman has been touting to the data—or failing that to at least provide a three-year transition period so some of the “nearby” competition can come closer.

The groups said that the proposal by FCC chairman Ajit Pai was arbitrary and capricious because it was based on a massive data collection on which his predecessor, Tom Wheeler, based an entirely different conclusion in a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking from which the BDS order being voted this week stems. Wheeler’s proposal concluded that the BDS marketplace was not particularly competitive, a conclusion with which the groups heartily agree. Pai’s proposal assumes it is generally competitive and getting more so and that the presence of nearby competition and two competitors in a market demonstrated that competiveness.

Phillip Berenbroick, senior policy counsel at Public Knowledge, called the Pai proposal doubling down on consolidation and debunked theories that competition in the BDS market is “just around the corner.” Chip Pickering of INCOMPAS suggested that the idea that nearby competition was sufficient was the equivalent of saying “one is enough,” which he called a “dangerous, dangerous” test for competitive markets and one that would hurt small businesses, consumers and investment.

Michael Calabrese of the Open Technology Institute also warned that the proposal would undermine wireless broadband because of how dependent wireless is on BDS backhaul services—wireless traffic travels from cell sites over wired (fiber) broadband nets. He said that as much as 30% of cell service operating expenses comes from that BDS backhaul, which they are required to buy at uncompetitive prices from incumbents that are also dominant mobile carriers. He said that is a high-priced fiber diet that the Pai proposal will make even higher.

Pickering, a former Republican congressman from Mississippi, said the Pai proposal was running against the Trump deregulatory tide with respect to education and healthcare and other issues, where the goal was competition and lower prices and that for schools, libraries and small businesses, it would amount to a no bid contract for critical connectivity.

Trump’s FCC Votes to Allow Broadband Rate Hikes for Schools and Libraries

Another day, another anti-consumer corporate giveaway.

President Trump’s recently-installed Federal Communications Commission chief, Republican Ajit Pai, has made clear that he wants to roll back US rules protecting net neutrality, the principle that all internet content should be equally accessible to consumers.

But the forthcoming Republican assault on net neutrality is just one component of an escalating effort by Trump’s FCC to deregulate the broadband industry in ways that benefit corporate giants like AT&T and Verizon, and hurt consumers, according to public interest advocates.

For example, the FCC voted today to approve a controversial plan to deregulate the $45 billion market for business-to-business broadband, also known as Business Data Services (BDS), by eliminating price caps that make internet access more affordable for thousands of small businesses, schools, libraries and hospitals. The price caps, which have been in place for years, are designed to protect small businesses and other community institutions from predatory behavior by monopoly broadband providers like AT&T and Verizon.

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Privacy & Net Neutrality on Chopping Block

The FCC’s plan to kill net neutrality will also kill internet privacy,

The Verge, April 11th, 2017

“After Congress repealed the FCC’s broadband privacy rules two weeks ago, new FCC chairman Ajit Pai promised the American people that he would ensure that the personal information they give to their ISPs would continue to be protected. Pai said that he planned to work with the Federal Trade Commission to “restore the FTC’s authority to police internet service providers’ privacy practices.”

“But this plan will not only fail to provide effective broadband privacy protections, it will come at the cost of eliminating the FCC’s net neutrality rules that prohibit ISPs like Comcast and AT&T from picking winners and losers on the internet. And there’s a real chance the FTC actually won’t be able to regulate ISPs at all.”