Archive for FCC

FCC Chairman Stops Trying To “Clarify” Social Media Rules

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 8, 2021 by itnerd

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai said he won’t move forward with an executive order From President Donald Trump to nuke and “clarify” a liability shield for social media companies. That means that the executive order is basically dead:

After announcing that he planned to “clarify” the meaning Section 230 free speech internet rules back in October 2020, FAA chairman Ajit Pai has now said he won’t do so. That’s largely because he’ll be gone on January 20th when Joe Biden is sworn in as the 46th US President. “There’s simply not sufficient time to complete the administrative steps necessary in order to resolve the rule-making. Given that reality, I do not believe it’s appropriate to move forward,” he told Protocol in an interview.

In reality, he likely didn’t have the power to change the rules anyway, as much as President Trump wanted and demanded it. Section 230, which gives social media sites like Twitter and Facebook immunity from lawsuits over user content, was drafted and passed by Congress. “The FCC cannot rewrite acts of Congress to suit its whims,” the ACLU’s senior legislative counsel Kate Ruane told Recode last year. “Section 230 is critical to protecting free speech online and the FCC has no authority to change it, especially not in ways that will undermine free expression.”

And in a related story, Pai had this to say about Trump being banned by Facebook and Twitter:

“I think it was a terrible mistake to suggest that the results of the election, and particularly the process that culminated yesterday in the Senate and the House, could in any way be changed,” he said. “That was a terrible mistake and one that I do not think in any way should have been indulged.”

That’s easy to say when your boss is on his way out the door. Where was this two or three years ago? Total #Fail.

FCC Sued Over Net Neutrality…… Shock. Not.

Posted in Commentary with tags , on March 24, 2015 by itnerd

The FCC knew this would come the second they decided that the Internet should be regulated which would ensure net neutrality. So I am pretty sure that they were not shocked when news of two lawsuits being filed to stop the FCC from going ahead with this according to News.com:

The USTelecom Association, a trade group that represents some of the nation’s largest Internet service providers, filed a complaint Monday in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia that claims the FCC’s action is a violation of federal law and was “arbitrary, capricious and an abuse of discretion.” Texas-based ISP Alamo Broadband made similar arguments against the FCC’s action Monday in a federal appeals court in New Orleans. The lawsuits represent the first legal challenges to the new rules in what is expected to be a lengthy court fight.

I fully expect that there will be more challenges to what the FCC has proposed. Thus you can fully expect this to be long, drawn out and ugly. And another one of those situations where only the lawyers win.

FCC Votes For Net Neutrality…. But Don’t Celebrate Just Yet

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on February 27, 2015 by itnerd

Here’s the good news. If you’re in the US, the FCC has voted 3-2 in terms of regulating the Internet like a utility such as your phone service. In effect, it is enforcing net neutrality. This is a very good thing as there will be no Internet “slow lanes” or “fast lanes” based on the content you consume. The new rules replace regulations that had been thrown out by a federal court last year.

ISPs, Telcos and the like are freaking out. Exhibit A is AT&T’s top legislative executive, Jim Cicconi, sharing his thoughts in a blog post. But their basic gripe is this: Applying these sorts of regulations to the broadband industry will stifle innovation by hurting investment opportunities in networks. It could also allow the government to impose new taxes and tariffs, which would increase consumer bills. And they say it could even allow the government to force network operators to share their infrastructure with competitors. Personally, I don’t see that happening. But they’re so upset about this that they are sure to file suit against the FCC. The FCC for its part claims that it is ready to fight this out in court. Thus, I would not pop the champagne just yet. The fight for net neutrality is not yet over.

So, when is something like this coming to Canada?

UPDATE: Upon further reflection, if you read the press release from the FCC in greater detail, it appears that they’ve copied and pasted a lot of it from the efforts of the CRTC. Though it is still a work in progress as highlighted by this decision against Bell and Videotron and Bell’s decision to appeal that decision.

FCC Says Blocking WiFi Is A Big No No

Posted in Commentary with tags , on January 29, 2015 by itnerd

You might recall that a hotel chain got smacked down pretty hard by the FCC because of the fact that they wanted to block any WiFi signal that they did not control. Plus when the pushed the issue, all the negative press forced them to back down. Yesterday, the FCC sent out this edict: Blocking WiFi is verboten:

Wi-Fi blocking violates Section 333 of the Communications Act, as amended. The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises. As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.

I for one am overjoyed with this because WiFi in hotels is not only hit or miss, but it’s sometimes rather expensive to use. Thus it sometimes makes using my iPhone 5s as a mobile hotspot an attractive option. Hopefully when some hotel chain tries to push the FCC on this, which they will, the FCC really takes them to the metaphorical woodshed.

US Citizens To FCC: No Calls On Planes

Posted in Commentary with tags on January 17, 2014 by itnerd

You might remember that the FAA was mulling the idea of letting people make phone calls on planes. Well, clearly Americans don’t agree with them and have complained to the FCC:

Unlike most FCC issues, which tend to draw highly technical and legal arguments, the in-flight cellphone concept has kindled the passions — and penmanship — of many ordinary Americans.

“Dear FCC,” begins one entry to Docket No. 13-301, received in the agency’s mailroom on Dec. 23, “What better use of my extra Christmas card than to ask you to please use any influence you have, during the process of allowing cellular use on planes, to guide airlines towards allowing data but not voice use in flight. Thank you.” Dave Moncjeau, who sent the card from Springvale, Maine, even wrote in “Happy Holidays” and “Merry Christmas.”

Other submissions are less cordial.

“Mr. Wheeler — Phones on planes is a terrible idea. You must fly on private planes or first class in an enclosed pod. This is the dumbest idea ever!” Paul Geddes of Needham, Massachusetts, wrote on a memo pad before tearing it off and sending it in.

I for one agree that this qualifies as one of the worst ideas ever. I fly frequently to clients in the US and overseas. I have to put up with enough on flights as it is and I really don’t need to hear someones conversation for the three hours that I am in flight. Now if 30% of the people on the flight do exactly the same thing, flights will quickly become unbearable. I hope the FCC listens to the travelling public and shelves this idea forever.

FCC Chairman Calls For Lifting Of Electronics Ban On Airplanes

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on December 11, 2012 by itnerd

Do you think it’s kind of lame that you have to turn off your laptops, tablets and other toys during takeoff and landing ? Federal Communications Commission chairman Julius Genachowski agrees with you. He’s calling for an easing of the ban on using mobile phones and other electronic devices on airplanes during takeoff and landing.

In a letter this week to the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates the airline industry, Genachowski pushed for a new look at the ban.

“I write to urge the FAA to enable greater use of tablets, e-readers and other portable electronic devices during flight, consistent with public safety,” the FCC chief said in the letter, seen Friday by AFP, to FAA Administrator Michael Huerta.

Genachowski said the FAA has begun a review of these rules, and added that “I support” the initiative.

“The review comes at time of tremendous innovation as mobile devices are increasingly interwoven in our daily lives,” the letter said.

“They empower people to stay informed and connected with friends and family, and they enable both large and small businesses to be more productive and efficient, helping drive economic growth and boost US competitiveness.”

The ban is in place based on the assumption that devices could interfere with an airplane’s navigation equipment. But there have been questions about the validity of this claim, and many point out that some people forget to turn off their devices during flights and nothing bad has happened. Thus you can’t be surprised that this is coming up as a topic for discussion.

My opinion? Let’s get someone to look at this issue scientifically and base whether a ban on electronics stays or goes based on that. That way, the issue is settled once and for all.

Comcast Files Suit Against The FCC… Just Like They Promised

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 17, 2009 by itnerd

Comcast said almost a year ago that they were going to go after the FCC because of the FCC’s rather lame attempt to stop Comcast from throttling their users. Well, they finally got around to filing the paperwork according to ARS Technica. Their main argument is this:

“For the FCC to conclude that an entity has acted in violation of federal law and to take enforcement action for such a violation, there must have been ‘law’ to violate,” Comcast’s Opening Brief [Warning: PDF] to the court contends. “Here, no such law existed.”

The article then goes on the explain the reasons why Comcast feels that they’re being unfairly picked on by the FCC as well as a brief history of this issue. It’s an interesting read and I hope you take the time to read it.

In any case, if I were the FCC I would solve the problem this way: Get congress to pass laws that outlaw throttling. That way there is a law that covers the sort of behavior that Comcast has engaged in. Problem solved.

Comcast Appeals FCC Ruling…. Didn’t See That Coming…. NOT!

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on September 4, 2008 by itnerd

You know, I have to admit that sometimes you get blindsided. That’s how I feel as the news that Comcast is appealing the FCC ruling that keeps them from messing with filesharing traffic. Richard Korman of ZDNet received a message from Comcast along with a statement from David L. Cohen, Executive Vice President of Comcast:

“Although we are seeking review and reversal of the Commission’s network management order in federal court, we intend to comply fully with the requirements established in that order, which essentially codify the voluntary commitments that we have already announced, and to continue to act in accord with the Commission’s Internet Policy Statement. Thus, we intend to make the required filings and disclosures, and we will follow through on our longstanding commitment to transition to protocol-agnostic network congestion management practices by the end of this year. We also remain committed to bringing our customers a superior Internet experience.

We filed this appeal in order to protect our legal rights and to challenge the basis on which the Commission found that Comcast violated federal policy in the absence of pre-existing legally enforceable standards or rules. We continue to recognize that the Commission has jurisdiction over Internet service providers and may regulate them in appropriate circumstances and in accordance with appropriate procedures. However, we are compelled to appeal because we strongly believe that, in this particular case, the Commission’s action was legally inappropriate and its findings were not justified by the record.”

This pretty much proves what I said in this post some time ago. The FCC has no way to punish Comcast, and their order is not legally enforcable. The only thing that surprises me is that it took Comcast this long to call them on it. Of course Comcast is covering themselves just in case the appeal doesn’t go their way by continuing to implement everything that the order calls for them to do. But one has to think that this FCC order is about to get deep sixed.

Comcast Annouces That It Will Only Throttle “Heavy Users”…..Whatever….

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 25, 2008 by itnerd

Everybody’s favorite ISP Comcast has confirmed that it will continue to throttle service for its heaviest users during periods of congestion. Basically, the plan is that they will take action against specific users by significantly reducing their transfer rate for up to 20 minutes as opposed to throttling everything:

“The new system will move away from a focus on specific applications that hog Web traffic, [Comcast senior vice president and general manager of online services Mitch] Bowling said. Comcast will determine “in nearly real time” whether congestion is caused by a heavy user, he said.

“If in fact a person is generating enough packets that they’re the ones creating that situation, we will manage that consumer for the overall good of all of our consumers,” Bowling said.”

Of course they’re doing this in response to the half assed FCC ruling that came out not too long ago. The new system, reportedly dubbed “fair share” should be in place by the end of 2008.

You’ll excuse me if I don’t jump up and down for joy as Comcast is still employing throttling at the end of the day. But I guess the devil is in the details, so we’ll have to wait and see just what those details are. Then we can decide if Comast has made an brilliant move, or a Comcastic move.

FCC Releases Comcast Throttling Order… Yawn.

Posted in Commentary with tags , , on August 20, 2008 by itnerd

This document (Warning: PDF) just appeared on the FCC site a few minutes ago. It is 67 pages long, but what it tells Comcast to do is in the following paragraph:

“Disclose the details of their unreasonable network management practices, submit a compliance plan describing how it intends to stop these unreasonable management practices by the end of the year, and disclose to both the Commission and the public the details of the network management practices that it intends to deploy following termination of its current practices.”

Great. Excecpt for a whole bunch of things:

  1. The FCC order doesn’t actually punish Comcast in any way.
  2. It doesn’t force them to do anything they didn’t plan to do after this story hit the media.
  3. It may not even be enforceable in court.
  4. Comcast continues to use forged packets to throttle upstream P2P traffic and will continue to do so until the end of the year.

I must be missing something here because I can’t see what purpose this order serves. Perhaps someone will enlighten me.