What’s Hot List 1/22/16

FCC pressed to start drafting Internet privacy rules (The Hill 1/20/16)

More than 50 digital rights and consumer groups are pressing the Federal Communications Commission to start drafting Internet privacy rules “as quickly as possible.”

The groups sent a letter to FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler arguing that increased monitoring by companies that provide Internet service can “have a chilling effect on speech and increase the potential for discriminatory practices.”

 

FCC Urged to Rein in Broadband Providers on Privacy Grounds (Tech Crunch 1/20/16)

More than 50 U.S. consumer and privacy organizations including the Center for Digital Democracy and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have co-signed a letter to FCC chairman Tom Wheeler calling for “strong rules” to protect the privacy of broadband users by reining in ISPs’ and telcos’ ability to harvest user data without explicit consent.

Last year, as part of its net neutrality rule-making, the FCC reclassified broadband as a so-called ‘Title II telecommunications service’ under the 1934 Communications Act — a move that also paves the way for a more active regulation of how ISPs use consumer data, given that the FCC can issue proper privacy regulations, vs the FTC only being able to do so for minors (under the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).

 

Keep The Internet Tax-Free (Forbes- Opinion 1/19/16)

As we enter the new year looking for legislative opportunities that produce massive economic benefits for American consumers, consider the proposed provisions included in HR 644 that would keep Internet access free from taxes, as it has been for almost two decades. If passed, this legislative fix would be very good news for consumers

 

FCC Claims Chevron Deference Against TCPA Rule Challenge (Bloomberg BNA 1/19/16)

The Federal Communications Commission is claiming Chevron deference as part of its effort to fend off challenges to its 2015 rules to further restrict robocalls and spam texts under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

The FCC made the argument in a brief Jan. 15 in a case brought by the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals (ACA International), Sirius XM Radio Inc., the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and more than two dozen other amici and petitioner intervenors (ACA Int’l v. FCC, et al, D.C. Cir., No. 15-1211, respondent brief filed 1/15/16). The principle holds that courts should defer to reasonable agency interpretations of statutes that require them to take action.

 

The FCC Thinks U.S. Internet Is Slow; AT&T and Verizon Disagree (The Motley Fool 1/19/16)

Every year, the Federal Communications Commission issues its report on broadband deployment across the United States. Every year, its findings cause grumbling from the industry.

A preview fact sheet of the 2016 report was met with more disdain from ISPs, including Verizon (NYSE:VZ) and AT&T (NYSE:T), this year because in January, 2015, the FCC upped the standard for what speed of service counts as broadband. As part of its 2015 Broadband Progress Report, the federal agency raised the minimum download speeds required from 4 Mbps to 25 Mbps, and the minimum upload speed from 1 Mbps to 3 Mbps.

 

 

 

Tennessee lawmakers gearing up for broadband battle (Chattanooga Times Free Press 1/19/16)

Dr. Terry Forshee lives only a few miles from America’s fastest broadband service.

But when the Cleveland, Tenn., pharmacist needs a reliable Internet connection, he has to leave his south Bradley County home and drive to his pharmacy store in Cleveland.

“I’ve been waiting for 27 years for Charter Spectrum, AT&T or somebody to come to me,” said Forshee, who said the lack of residential broadband service is hurting his effort to build a national obesity education business. “I call every month, and I’m tired of waiting.”

 

Putin’s top Internet adviser seems to own a piracy torrent site (ARS Technica 1/20/16)

ladimir Putin’s special adviser on the Internet, German (Herman) Klimenko appears to be the owner of a Russian torrent website, according to an investigation by TorrentFreak. The site is torrNADO.ru, a pun on the Russian phrase “torrenti nado?”—do you need torrents? It offers the usual range of films, music, games, software, and e-books, all for free, and so presumably pirated.

 

Despite battling for net neutrality, Netflix sees no problem with T-Mobile’s Binge On (The Verge 1/19/16)

Netflix CEO Reed Hastings says he doesn’t have a problem with T-Mobile’s controversial Binge On service — in fact, Netflix is actually a fan of it. Binge On lets T-Mobile customers stream video from services like Netflix and HBO without it counting toward their monthly data caps. It’s drawing net neutrality activists’ ire, however, because it gives an advantage to the companies included in Binge On, like Netflix, over companies that aren’t, like YouTube. Hastings doesn’t see it that way, choosing instead to use the arguments of T-Mobile CEO John Legere, despite Netflix once asserting the very same practice “distorted consumer choice.”

 

Facebook Launches New Initiative Against Online Extremism And Hate Speech (Forbes 1/19/16)

On Monday evening, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg announced in Berlin the launch of a new campaign against extremist speech on the Internet, called Online Civil Courage Initiative (OCCI). The initiative is supported by the German Ministry of Justice and Consumer Protection, and is a partnership between Facebook, the London-based “think and do tank” Institute for Strategic Dialogue, the Amadeu Antonio Foundation, one of Germany’s foremost, independent NGOs, and the International Centre for the Study of Radicalization and Political Violence.