What’s Hot List: 3/18/16

FCC Drafting Order to Approve Charter-Time Warner Cable Deal

(Wall Street Journal 3/15/16)

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is likely to circulate a draft order as soon as this week approving Charter CommunicationsInc.’s $55 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc. with certain conditions, according to people familiar with the matter.

Divided E&C Passes FCC Rate Reg-Blocking Bill (Multichannel News 3/15)

n a party line vote and after a sometimes rancorous markup, the House Energy & Commerce Committee Tuesday passed a bill that would prevent the FCC from regulating the rates consumers pay for broadband access service.


The bill, HR 2666, the No Rate Regulation of Broadband Internet Access Act, was sponsored by Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.).


The vote was 29 to 19.

The Rise And Fall Of FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Internet Empire (Forbes Commentary 3/16)

Since taking office in 2013, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler’s Internet ambitions have grown ever more expansive, even as the connection of his wide-ranging proposals to actual law becomes correspondingly diminished.

In recent months, the FCC has launched a broadside of regulatory initiatives, many to solve hypothetical problems in the digital ecosystem.  Few have much chance of doing more good than harm.

The Feds Are Prepping Strict Rules to Protect Your Online Privacy (Wired 3/14)

TOM WHEELER, THE chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, has proposed what could become the largest and most stringent set of privacy regulations on the US technology industry to date.

The rules, if passed, will prohibit Internet service providers from selling customer data without consumers’ prior consent and limit the kinds of products Internet providers can market to customers based their online activity. Wheeler’s announcement comes even as consumer privacy dominates the news with a courtroom battle over whether the government can compel Apple to help crack the encryption on a customer’s phone to advance a terrorism investigation.


FCC to Court, FAB Et Al. Not Eligible for Stay (Broadcasting & Cable 3/15/16)

The FCC has told a Federal Court it does not have the power to grant a stay to LPTV petitioners seeking to delay the start of the FCC auction.

In the latest of three such stay requests, the FCC said that Free Access & Broadcast Telemedia, LLC (FAB), Word of God Fellowship, Inc. and Mako Communications, LLC, had no standing to seek the stay, and even if they did “have not come close to satisfying the stringent requirements for a stay pending review.”


FCC Slapped Verizon With A $1.35M Fine, But Supercookies Remain A Problem Around The World (Forbes 3/14)

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission announced last week that it was slapping Verizon with a $1.35 million for its use of supercookies, the unique identifier headers that it secretly injected into every http request made by its mobile users to track their Web-browsing behavior without their knowledge, let alone consent. Before rejoicing, take note: the nonprofit digital rights organization Access Now released a report last August on the rise of these invasive mobile tracking headers, and reported that they have been around for almost 15 years. Through the tool it built to let users test whether they were being tracked on their phones, Access Now found that multiple carriers in at least ten countries around the world were using tracking headers.

FCC moves to assure lawmakers on legality of tele-town halls (The Hill 3/14)

The Federal Communications Commission took a step Monday to clarify that automated robocalls for tele-town halls do not violate the law.

Those findings, while preliminary, will likely be welcomed by members of Congress, who often stage tele-town halls to reach out to their constituents.

On Monday afternoon, the FCC circulated to its commissioners three rulings that incorporate a recent Supreme Court decision. Those rulings, an FCC official said, clarify that companies can perform automated outreach on behalf of congressional offices and federal agencies without violating restrictions in a federal law known as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act.

FCC Proposal Would Limit What Internet Providers Can Do With Users’ Data (NPR 3/10)

The FCC has unveiled a proposal that would restrict Internet providers’ ability to share the information they collect about what their customers do online with advertisers and other third parties.


If adopted, these would be the first privacy rules for Internet service providers, resulting largely from last year’s net neutrality regulations that expanded the Federal Communications Commission’s oversight authority over the industry. (Those rules are currently pending in court.)

How Chicago-style politics trumped independence in Internet regulation (The Hill 3/15)

Last week, a Republican Senate investigative report released by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), chairman of the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee concluded that President Obama employed “undue influence” to lean on the independent Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to go beyond net neutrality and adopt tough new rules that put broadband providers in the same legal category as tightly regulated monopoly telephone companies.

“It should be highly concerning that an independent agency like the FCC could be so unduly influenced by the White House, particularly on an issue that touches the lives of so many Americans and has such a significant impact on a critical sector of the United States economy,” the report said.

UPDATE 1-U.S. FCC Internet privacy proposal could harm broadband providers – Moody’s (Reuters)

Ratings agency Moody’s Investors Services said on Tuesday that a proposal by U.S. communications regulators to impose privacy restrictions on broadband providers like Verizon Communications Inc, AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Charter Communications Inc was “credit-negative.”

U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler on Thursday proposed barring providers from collecting user data without getting consent as part of a privacy proposal for internet use.