In April of this year, the Federal Communications Commission began a wireline infrastructure proceeding designed to accelerate broadband deployment. The proceeding contains multiple proposals to remove barriers to broadband deployment and infrastructure, such as reforming pole attachment rates and preempting state and local laws. Buried within these proposals is a plan to eliminate “tech transitions” rules, which outline the responsibilities of phone carriers when they choose to retire copper networks or discontinue service.
Ever since Congress repealed the Federal Communication Commission’s broadband privacy rules, consumers have expressed outrage over their lack of privacy protections when accessing broadband networks. The FCC’s rules prevented broadband providers from sharing sensitive customer information without permission. Repealing these privacy rules left a significant gap in consumer protection in the internet ecosystem.
In its 2015 Open Internet Order, the Federal Communications Commission reclassified broadband internet under Title II of the Communications Act, establishing broadband providers as common carriers under the same framework as our telephone networks. By embracing its Title II authority and creating clear, bright line rules against blocking and discrimination, the FCC enacted the strongest net neutrality rules in history.
In the early months of the Trump Administration, damaging leaks have come out of the White House ranging from stories of staff infighting to descriptions of the President’s calls with heads of state. According to a recent Politico report, the leaks have caused a culture of paranoia to spread among White House staff. Staffers are taking extreme measures to protect their privacy by turning off work-issued smartphones when they get home, and using encrypted messaging apps that automatically delete messages once they’ve been read. Others are leaving their personal mobile devices at home in the event their bosses and Administration lawyers engage in phone checks and search for leaks. While White House staffers scramble to protect their private communications, Congress is moving in the opposite direction to eliminate any expectations of Americans having private communications networks.
In December of last year, the film Hidden Figures depicted the efforts of three female African American mathematicians working in NASA during the 1960s space race. The film went on to garner numerous awards but more importantly sparked a larger discussion -- many viewers had no idea how critical these women as well as other African Americans were to NASA’s success.
After a proceeding that has stretched on for more than a decade, the Federal Communications Commission’s largest ever data collection, and numerous delays, the fight over business data services (BDS) reform (previously referred to as “special access” reform) could be nearing its end. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler has repeatedly promised the FCC is finally set to reform the BDS market this year by lowering the rates that monopoly phone companies can charge to businesses, institutions, and wireless carriers, and promoting new competition and market entry.