2014 Issue Watch
FCC Is Pulling Plug on CIN Study
“The FCC will not move forward with the Critical Information Needs study," an FCC spokesman said Friday. "The Commission will reassess the best way to fulfill its obligation to Congress to identify barriers to entry into the communications marketplace faced by entrepreneurs and other small businesses.”
The study had drawn criticism for plans to interview journalists over why they covered what they covered. FCC chairman Tom Wheeler suspended the study earlier in the week, at least until the methodology could be changed to scrub questions to journalists and media owners, but utlimately it appears to have been unsalvageable.... » Read More
Democratic Lawmakers Want To Bring Net Neutrality
Back to Life
Democrats in Congress have introduced a bill that would restore Net neutrality regulations, less than a month after a court decision struck them down. U.S. Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., is among the legislators who back efforts to restore Net neutrality regulations,
"It basically says, 'Remember the court decision from a couple of weeks ago? Forget about that,'" John Bergmayer, senior staff attorney at Internet freedom advocacy group Public Knowledge, told NBC News. "Right now there are no rules in place. This is basically saying, while the FCC is making up its mind, the previous rules are in place."
Reps. Anna Eshoo and Henry Waxman, both D-Calif., introduced the Open Internet Preservation Act in the House, while Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., introduced a companion bill in the Senate.
“The Internet is an engine of economic growth because it has always been an open platform for competition and innovation,” Waxman said in a statement. “Our bill very simply ensures that consumers can continue to access the content and applications of their choosing online."
If passed, the legislation would require that broadband providers treat all Internet traffic equally. That is how it worked before Jan. 14, when a U.S. appeals court ruled that the Federal Communications Commission couldn't impose Net neutrality regulations because it classified broadband providers more like Google than a telephone or power company. » Read More
Court Vacates Heart of FCC Open Internet Order
A three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has unanimously vacated much of the FCC's Open Internet order and remanded it back to the FCC.
"[A]lthough we reject Verizon’s challenge to the Open Internet Order’s disclosure rules, we vacate both the anti-discrimination and the anti-blocking rules. The agency’s decision is so deficient as to raise serious doubts whether the agency can adequately justify its decision at all," said the court. "We remand the case to the Commission for further proceedings consistent with this opinion."
The court said the FCC has the authority to "promulgate rules governing broadband providers’ treatment of Internet traffic," and says that its "justification for the specific rules at issue here – that they will preserve and facilitate the “virtuous circle” of innovation that has driven the explosive growth of the Internet – is reasonable and supported by substantial evidence."
But it concluded that because the FCC has not classified ISPs as common carriers, it cannot regulate them as though they were. » Read More
Supreme Court To Hear Aereo Appeal
The Supreme Court has agreed to hear broadcasters appeal of the denial of its injunction request against Aereo. The court held a conference Friday on what appeals to hear, and did not take long in making the decision.
"The petition for a writ of certiorari is granted," the court said without elaboration. Justice Samuel Alito took no part in the decision.
Aereo had joined broadcasters in saying the court should resolve the issue, which is whether it is simply providing remote access to TV station signals or is retransmitting a performance without compensation in violation of the copyright laws.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals refused to grant an injunction and suggested Aereo was on solid legal footing. The case has yet to be decided in the lower courts, but broadcasters argue that the service should be blocked until that lower court decision is reached because it threatens their business.
So far, no other federal appeals court has weighed in, so there is no split in the federal circuit. But district courts have differed, and the Ninth and D.C. federal appeals courts have been asked to weigh in. » Read More
FCC Chairman Voices Clear but Cautious Support for Net Neutrality
Speaking at the 2014 Consumer Electronics Show, FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler offered cautious but clear support for Net neutrality.
When Consumer Electronics Assn. topper Gary Shapiro, who interviewed Wheeler onstage Wednesday, wondered if Net neutrality rules might become unnecessary, Wheeler framed the issue in terms of results, not rules, and warned the FCC would act if markets veered in directions that discourage competition and innovation.
"I've always — well, for 60 days," he quipped, noting his short time on the job, "I've been talking about what I call the regulatory seesaw. If there are good things happening the marketplace, if there is competition, then the commission doesn't have to do much. But it can (tilt) as well."
The current Open Internet Order, he said, "is designed to encourage competition, is designed to be different for wireless than from wire, and it makes it clear that if there are untoward things impacting things to the network, undermining innovation, then the commission should move." » Read More