Yesterday, Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai circulated a draft order to approve the Sprint/T-Mobile merger. The move follows the Department of Justice’s approval of the deal, pending the divestiture of prepaid brands and customers, as well as several side agreements designed to accelerate Dish Network’s entry into the wireless market.
Last week, Politico reported that the White House was considering a potential “Executive Order” (EO) to address the ongoing-yet-unproven allegations of pro-liberal, anti-conservative bias by giant Silicon Valley companies such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google. (To the extent that there is rigorous research by AI experts, it shows that social media sites are more likely to flag posts by self-identified African Americans as “hate speech” than identical wording used by whites.) Subsequent reports by CNN and The Verge have provided more detail. Putting the two together, it appears that the Executive Order would require the Federal Communications Commission to create regulations designed to create rules limiting the ability of digital platforms to “remove or suppress content” as well as prohibit “anticompetitive, unfair or deceptive” practices around content moderation. The EO would also require the Federal Trade Commission to somehow open a docket and take complaints (something it does not, at present, do, or have capacity to do – but I will save that hobby horse for another time) about supposed political bias claims.
Today, reports surfaced that the Trump Administration is drafting an Executive Order that would require the Federal Communications Commission and Federal Trade Commission to monitor speech on social media platforms. Reports indicate that the draft order calls for the FCC to develop new regulations detailing how and when the law shields social media companies when they remove content from their platforms. Public Knowledge finds this Administration’s potential abandonment of free speech and agency independence alarming.
Over the past few years, the major U.S. mobile carriers have been in the spotlight over allegations that they have been selling their subscribers’ real-time geolocation data, including highly precise assisted GPS (A-GPS) information designed for use with “Enhanced 911” (E911). The Federal Communications Commission requires mobile carriers to offer E911, a service that provides 911 operators with a wireless caller’s location information, generally accurate within 50 to 300 meters.
Today, the Federal Communications Commission voted to approve a Third Report and Order to enforce cable franchising laws by preempting state and local authorities. Public Knowledge finds the FCC’s move to prevent states from regulating broadband -- a service the agency refuses to regulate itself -- both baffling as policy and defective as a matter of law.