What’s Hot List: 11/20/15

Questions For Tomorrow’s FCC Hearing (Forbes 11/16)

The disaster that is this Administration’s growing effort to regulate the Internet will be on full display at tomorrow’s Congressional hearing. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler will no doubt put the best face possible on these policies, which include over-regulation of the Internet’s private networks, impending price regulation of business broadband and cherry-picking winners at next year’s spectrum auctions.

Last February, following a video delivering their unprecedented marching orders from the White House, the Commission voted to repeal America’s hands-off Internet policy and begin regulating the Internet under 1930s-era public utility-style rules (referred to as Title II regulations). Since then, an overwhelming amount of evidence has piled up showing not only that the policies are harming the consumers they were promised to protect.

FCC Says it Can’t Shut Down ISIS Websites (The Hill 11/17)

The head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) on Tuesday shot down suggestions that the agency could take down websites used by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other terrorist groups.

Rep. Joe Barton (R-Texas) asked Friday during a House Energy and Commerce subcommittee whether the FCC has the authority to block such websites and social media accounts, following last week’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris.

FCC Refuses To Force Websites To Adhere To ‘Do Not Track,’ And That’s A Good Thing (Tech Dirt 11/ 16)

If you’ve followed the saga of “Do Not Track,” you know it began with good intentions, labored under squabbling and marketing industry sabotage, and is now seen by some as too little too late in the face of far more sophisticated new snoopvertising technologies. Knowing that many companies will never honor Do Not Track requests voluntarily, Consumer Watchdog had filed a petition (pdf) with the FCC to “initiate a rulemaking proceeding requiring ‘edge providers’ (like Google, Facebook, YouTube, Pandora, Netflix, and LinkedIn) to honor ‘Do Not Track’ Requests from consumers.”

FCC’s O’Rielly Concerned About ‘Mission Creep’ (Multichannel 11/17)

Republican FCC Commissioner Michael O’Rielly says that he is concerned that “expansive interpretations” of the Communications Act by the commission signaled by recent enforcement actions against non-carriers could take the FCC “far beyond” its traditional jurisdiction.

He planned to make that point to members of the House Communications Subcommittee in an oversight hearing Tuesday (Nov. 17), according to a copy of his testimony.

House tees up FCC process reform vote (The Hill 11/16)

The House on Monday is scheduled to vote on a pared-back version of a Federal Communications Commission process reform bill that has attracted bipartisan support.

The bill differs from one passed out of committee in June that contained amendments opposed by Democrats that would have required the FCC to publish the exact text of proposed rules at least three weeks ahead of a vote.

Pai: FCC Enforcement Has ‘Gone Off Rails’ (Multichannel 11/16)

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai takes aim at the FCC’s Enforcement Bureau in his prepared statement for a Nov. 17 House Communications Subcommittee FCC oversight hearing.

According to his testimony, he said the Chairman of the parent Energy & Commerce Committee, Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and vice chair of the subcommittee, Bob Latta (R-Ohio), were right in to call for an investigation into how the Enforcement Bureau was being run.

Paris attacks should be ‘wake up call’ for more digital surveillance, CIA director says (The Hill 11/16)

U.S. and European officials are calling for expanded government surveillance powers in the wake of Friday’s deadly terrorist attacks in Paris, which have killed at least 129 people.

Addressing the violence Monday at a Washington conference, CIA director John Brennan blamed public “handwringing” over U.S. surveillance programs as an obstacle to catching terrorism suspects.

Mobile Encryption Under Scrutiny After Paris Attacks (Light Reading 11/16)

Smartphone makers and communications apps developers could feel the knock-on effects of Friday’s terrorist attacks in Paris, as law and security officials in the US complain that modern encryption on devices puts them in the dark on terrorist communications.

New York Police Commissioner William Bratton has been most vocal about these issues. He took to the Sunday politics talk shows in the US to vent his frustration about law enforcement not having a back door into encrypted communications on devices like the Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone or messaging apps like Facebook ‘s WhatsApp.

The FCC flexes its privacy muscles (The Hill 11/18)

Earlier this month, Cox Communications agreed to pay $595,000 and enter into a seven-year consent decree with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to settle a case involving a hack that exposed the data of 61 Cox customers. This was the FCC’s first privacy and data security enforcement action against a cable operator and is likely to reinforce concerns about the FCC’s new authority in this area and how it will be implemented.

 

The FCC’s Unforced Error – Re/Code

When Chairman Tom Wheeler and the four FCC commissioners appear before Congress on Tuesday, they will have to answer questions about the commission’s penchant for exceeding its lawful authority, skirting procedural niceties, and generally refusing to play fair. The centerpiece of this discussion will be the agency’s partisan reclassification of some, but not all, Internet services under Title II of the Communications Act, a regulatory niche that maximizes the FCC’s power and control over the sector’s business models.

AT&T, Analysts: T-Mobile’s Video Service Could Spell Network Trouble – Wireless Week

In his comments during the 2015 Wells Fargo Securities Technology, Media & Telecom conference Wednesday, AT&T president and CEO of Business Solutions Ralph de la Vega expressed concerns about the impact of T-Mobile’s new video streaming service, Binge On.

Though Vega said it was a natural step for the Un-carrier to try to get into the mobile video market, he said questions still linger as to how the service will affect the wireless network.