What’s Hot 1/20/2014

T-Mobile CEO Swears (Like A Sailor) That Industry Will Change (NPR’s All Things Considered, 1/20/14) T-Mobile CEO John Legere enjoys making waves – or perhaps he feels as if there’s no choice, because he helms the smallest of the four major telecom companies. Legere is engaged in a feisty battle for market share. In Las Vegas recently, he crashed AT&T’s party at a trade show and was summarily kicked out, and T-Mobile is going hard after its competitors in new commercials. But where this all ends is an open question. Many analysts believe T-Mobile will eventually be gobbled up in a merger.

In Developing Countries, Google and Facebook Already Defy Net Neutrality (MIT Technology Review, 01/21/2014) Net neutrality—the idea that all Internet traffic should generally be treated equally—suffered a setback last week when a federal court struck down the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s latest regulatory effort. Pro-neutrality types have worried that a few giant companies will end up controlling, or at least mediating, the Internet experience for much of the population because of special deals they’ve struck with Internet providers for prioritized or subsidized data delivery. But in the emerging economies of the world, that’s pretty much how things already work, thanks to a growing number of deals Google and Facebook have struck with mobile phone carriers from the Philippines to Kenya. In essence, these deals give people free access to text-only version of things like Facebook news feeds, Gmail, and the first page of search results under plans like Facebook Zero or Google Free Zone. Only when users click links in e-mails or news feeds, go beyond the first page of search results, or visit websites by other means do they incur data charges. But the existence of a free and dominant chat, e-mail, search, and social-networking service makes it awfully hard for any competitor to arise. And Susan Crawford, visiting professor of law at Harvard University and a co-director of Harvard’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society, calls it “a big concern” that Google and Facebook are the ones becoming the portal to Web content for many newcomers.

5 Ways the FCC Could Respond to Invalidation of Its ‘Net Neutrality’ Rules (jdsupra.com, 01/20/2014) Earlier this month, an appeals court overturned the Federal Communications Commission rules intended to prohibit broadband providers from charging high-volume websites – like Netflix, voice-over Internet providers, and YouTube – higher prices to ensure higher quality. The background, from attorney Ken Keane at Duane Morris: …The rules were adopted out of a concern that carriers might block, or otherwise grant preferential treatment to, their own Internet services, thereby disadvantaging competing content providers and consumers—and ultimately impairing the growth of the Internet.” But the court found that the Open Internet Order overstepped the FCC’s authority, explain attorneys at Skadden Arps: At the same time, however, the court held that the FCC not only has the authority to regulate the Internet, it also has the power to impose rules like the anti-blocking and anti-discrimination measures if they are necessary for open development of the Internet. Attorney Christopher Savage of Davis Wright Tremaine: “The majority affirmed that the FCC has jurisdiction over the Internet (since it involves ‘communications by wire or radio,’ the relevant language in the Communications Act) and thus over broadband providers; it affirmed that Section 706 of the Telecommunications Act of 1996 provides a separate and independent grant of authority to the agency to impose regulations on broadband providers, if such regulation is needed to ensure the deployment of broadband facilities and services; and it even affirmed that the specific rules the FCC had adopted were reasonable under Section 706 (considered alone) and fully justified based on the record, even though it ultimately struck them down.” In other words, the FCC broke its own rules when it implemented the Order, explain MIchael Drobac and Jennifer Richter of Patton Boggs: “[S]ince the FCC has classified broadband providers as information service providers exempt from common carriage requirements, it cannot impose common carriage regulations.” So what’s next? The FCC has a number of options, all of which could have an important impact on providers and users alike:

    • 1. They could rewrite the rules:
      2. They could appeal the ruling:
      3. They could draft entirely new rules to achieve similar objectives:
      4. They could change the regulatory status of broadband:
      5. They could seek additional powers from Congress:

South Dakota lawmaker will try to ban texting while driving (Associated Press , 01/20/2014)
A South Dakota lawmakers plans to press “send” again and try to persuade his colleagues in the Legislature to join 41 other states and ban texting while driving. Similar measure have failed in recent legislative sessions, but Sen. Mike Vehle, of Mitchell, said texting behind the wheel is obviously dangerous because it diverts a driver’s attention from the road. A law banning the practice would persuade more people to stop texting while driving simply because it would be illegal, the Republican said. “I want to make it a culture shift. It’s not safe to text and drive,” Vehle said. A measure Vehle sponsored last year was passed by the Senate 24-9, but the bill was rejected by a House committee.
Microsoft calls for international convention on government data access (ZDNet.com, 01/21/2014)
In a blog post on Monday by Brad Smith, Microsoft’s general counsel and executive vice president for Legal and Corporate Affairs, the tech giant has advocated international collaboration on government access to data after the extent of the National Security Agency’s (NSA) program was revealed last year. Microsoft said on Monday that the changes to government surveillance announced by US President Barack Obama last week mark “positive progress on key issues, including privacy protections for non-US citizens”. Microsoft has come out and stated, however, “The reforms set out by the president will in reality retain the status quo: The NSA will still be allowed to spy, it just won’t have unfettered access to that data.” The company added that it is willing to work alongside the US government and Congress in order to come up with more suitable changes. Promoting human rights and individual privacy alongside “timely access to data” where it is necessary for governments to prevent terrorism-related threats, the tech giant pointed towards the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting being held in Switzerland later this week as a prime opportunity for an international agreement on data privacy and government surveillance to be outlined. “We’ve all been reminded that surveillance takes place by governments internationally. And as industry reports make clear, governments around the world demand access to customer data. As a result, we need to broaden the topic and bring together governments to create a new international legal framework. Such an approach would enhance transparency and reduce the legal uncertainty that currently risks slowing new cloud-based technology services internationally. Clearer rules for access to data internationally would help open borders and enable companies to host services and data in one country for citizens in another.”
@WirelessWeek AT&T on FCC Plan: ‘Would Turn Disaster Recovery into a Contest” http://bit.ly/LwgSv8