Last week, the House of Representatives approved H.R. 4986 -- a bill that, among other things, reauthorizes the Federal Communications Commission and approves the agency’s funding for fiscal years 2019 and 2020. House passage followed an announcement that the bipartisan leadership of the Senate Commerce Committee and the House Energy & Commerce Committee had reached an agreement to support the legislation -- framing the bill as reauthorizing the FCC and spurring deployment of 5G wireless networks across the nation.
For nearly three months last summer, the sensitive personal data of more than 145 million American consumers was exposed to bad actors thanks to some “ham-fisted” behavior on the part of credit reporting giant, Equifax. Americans were outraged, and lawmakers began to scrutinize Equifax’s behavior during the breach, including three Equifax senior executives selling shares worth almost $1.8 million in the days after the company discovered the hack.
When the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) overturned the net neutrality rules in December 2017, it gave the green light to cable and other Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to make the internet start looking more like cable TV. It’s not news that many people are completely sick of cable, from the skyrocketing rates, to archaic and slow set-top boxes, to bogus fees. By refusing to police ISPs, the FCC has cleared the way for the internet to start looking more like this, as the Comcasts of the world begin to jack up rates and nickel-and-dime the internet like they did with cable. The FCC’s action didn’t just repeal one set of rules, but took away even the basic level of oversight the FCC has had over ISPs for years, under both Republican and Democratic leadership.
Later this month, the U.S., Canada, and Mexico will launch their sixth round of negotiations for the modernization of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Recent news coverage has focused on whether the Trump administration will withdraw from the agreement or not. As civil society continues to be excluded from this process, there is still little information about actual intellectual property proposals, but the position of Public Knowledge remains unchanged: trade agreements must promote a balanced copyright system that serves the public interest.